Relaxing Ferry Rides, Effective Marketing Workshop

One of the many really big BC ferries
One of the many really big BC ferries
Beautiful waters between the mainland and Vancouver Island, BC
Beautiful waters between the mainland and Vancouver Island, BC
A recent trip across the water to Vancouver Island and a terrific author marketing conference was both enjoyable and exhausting. Thank goodness for the restfulness of the ferry rides coming and going over calm water. Alas, I saw no orca pods. I suspect they were elsewhere than along the route of the big ferries.

Each of the hands-on workshops put on by Promontory Press were excellent, giving me pages of ideas to implement over the next several weeks and months. I’ve found that tackling too much at once nets me nothing but frustration, but taking a one-step-at-a-time approach works better. Meeting other authors who admitted to similar struggles with the marketing end of book publishing left me feeling that I wasn’t alone. Rather, we can help each other in myriad ways, including simply nodding knowingly with a quiet comment, “I know what you mean. I feel that way, too.”

Working with the different staff at Promontory Press helped me feel that they were there to help me and all the other authors, that our struggles are their struggles and that their successes will be reflected in our successes, too.

I look forward to my next invitation to visit with them as we celebrate having met our mutually-determined goals.

Why is the Canyon GRAND?

Grand Canyon
Its age? Its height from the river to the highest point on the North Rim? Its width from the South to the North Rim? The spectacular night sky? The ever-changing colors and shadows? That consarned fog that hid and then brilliantly lifted/separated to reveal the jewel that was the Canyon? Getting lost when tramping back from the South Rim and wandering into the wrong parking area?

All of the above added to my recent experience at the Grand Canyon, but what really made it wonderful was the people I met: most but not all retired; Cowgirl Ms. P, who almost missed the bus when she spotted a nearby Starbucks at a rest stop; the goat-raiser; the former New Jerseyite now enjoying the west coast of Florida; the Texans; the Coloradans worried about the recent Boulder floods; the Swede whose lilting speech immediately transported me back to my visit in 1999 to Uppsala and the wonderful cathedral whose pipe organ rattled my bones; and so many other memorable people. Our “fearless leaders,” Jeff and Dave, were both patient and firm as we, their charges, wandered (like non-herdable cats) whenever the vans stopped or they walked with us to the Rim, and sometimes over it! This particular Road Scholar adventure moved to the top of the list of similarly-sponsored adventures I’ve enjoyed.

Persons who’ve never been to the Canyon may want to consider exploring its challenges while enjoying the myriad views. The book I purchased: Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon (by Ghiglieri and Myers) continues to confound me with the stupidity of people who should know better even as it makes clear the risks that too many visitors have unwittingly ignored and, as Jeff once remarked, “died to regret it.” We saw examples of such carelessness several times, as when several women and men posed beyond the fencing and/or walls for that “perfect” picture or raced along the trails when a steady walk would have accomplished the same goal without risking an inadvertent stumble followed by a looonnnnngggg fall over the side. One such recounting in the book made me wonder if the gentleman who fell 1200 feet thought himself a bird without wings before he made fatal contact with the stones.

Our occasional encounters with the birds (the condor at Navaho Bridge comes to mind) and the animals of the Canyon (especially the mule deer and elk) also added to our engagement with the place. I continue to chuckle at the encounter of the field mouse who thought there was safety under one bed in a cabin on the North Rim until the squeals of one of our members urgently encouraged it to go elsewhere.

Spectacular sunrises were exclaimed over by those early-risers determined to take them in. I prefer to remember the rainbow we caught while hiking along the South Rim, and the sunset while dining on the North Rim. In short, the colors amazed, whether they were created by the sun on the rocks, the shadows on same, or the ever-changing sky, with or without the rainclouds that created rushing rust-colored water in the washes we crossed.

The canyon, visible from space, is indeed GRAND up close, too. There’s just no other word that even begins to do it justice.

CSI is not as you might think

Because I have been interested in what is shown on TV in different CSI shows, I took advantage of an opportunity recently to spend a few days with a crime scene investigator. In a word, what in on television is not at all a true reflection of what happens in the real world. Fiction requires that answers be found quickly, and often easily. Real crime scenes are fraught with too many hands touching what shouldn’t be touched, footprints where feet should not be walking, and even placing crime scene tape too close to the scene itself. While working with the investigator, I and my fellows learned how to pull fingerprints off both smooth and more difficult surfaces. Even my clean shoes provided an excellent example of how to lift a footprint from flooring, even when one did not see a footprint. We also learned why a crime scene investigator would never interview a suspect unless that person is first and foremost a detective who’s been secondarily trained to obtain evidence at the scene.  Nor do most CSI’s carry guns.

In spite of learning how fictional those TV shows really are, knowing the writers probably ignored the consultants’ recommendations (and maybe even their frowns when “the story arc” trumped reality) has not ruined my enjoyment of those shows. Instead, I now concentrate on other aspects of the story as I lose myself in the fantasy presented.

A Thumbnail Sketch of my Trip to India

The beautiful Taj Mahal

I was remiss in January, after returning from a fabulous trip to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and four different areas of India to share my thoughts about the trip.  Nearly a year late, here is a thumbnail of what I saw and how I was affected by it.

People often think of India as a country plagued by illness or disease and way too many people. I have to admit that the traffic in Mumbai (with about 16 million people) was daunting. Particularly scary (but also kind of fun) was riding in a three-wheeled vehicle in traffic that seemed to be controlled by the incessant honking of horns. However, the malls in many cities were too much like that found in US cities and included brand names any American pre-teen would recognize and gravitate to. I preferred indigenous Indian fare, which I found more interesting.

This picture shows thousands of people walking to and from the area where we were required to remove our shoes. It was holiday-time and I suspect that the Taj Mahal is visited by as many people throughout the year. The architecture was spectacular inside and out.

Also of interest to me was the museum exploring Mahatma Gandhi’s life work, housed in the home in which he was born in Mumbai. I learned of his views and read his writings–many opinions far ahead of his time, including his views on the importance of equality for women in a society where it was rarely practiced during his lifetime.

A Western-educated person might assume that the major inventions and scientific breakthroughs occurred in the European cities and those, more recently, in North America.  I learned that major mathematical understandings were written about in India three thousand years earlier!  Why were they not shared with the rest of the world? My theory is that such sharing did not move from south to north, but rather from east to west.

India has a burgeoning middle class that has spurred major changes throughout this huge country. Not least among the changes is the elimination in the last 18 months of endemic poliomyelitis, which for so many years was a scourge, paralyzing thousands and killing many of its victims. Only three countries throughout the world are still plagued by this preventable disease. India is no longer one of them.

Would I return? Yes! It’s a country far too large to see in one visit, even one of several weeks. My advice? Limit yourself to a few key cities and spend several days in each, the better to enjoy the unique flavors of the foods in each area and the many sites that truly reflect the culture.

Travel – the ups and downs of it

My recent trip to Chicago was wonderful for the time it provided to spend with my writing cousin, catching up on all her activities, oohing and ahing over her new e-books and her plans for others.  But it also reminded me that I need to plan better. Someone once said a “failure to plan = a plan to fail.”  How well I now understand what was meant.

It’s been about 15 years since I was in Chicago and the road system is much changed. As a result, I got lost going from the rental car parking lot–in the dark and rainy evening traffic–to my cousin’s home in one of the western suburbs. Two hours and two phone calls to her finally resulted in my arrival, exhausted and far more stressed than I had anticipated.

Five days later, I climbed in the car and headed back to O’Hare, only to miss the turn-off (or was it not marked?!) and having to travel many miles out of my way before being able to exit the tollroad, call for directions and then follow the phoned instructions of the person who kept assuring me I WOULD make my plane.  I had my doubts. Thank goodness for securing my boarding pass on line and not planning to check my luggage.

I finally arrived at the correct kiosk with barely ten minutes to spare.

Decision time: my next visit will involve using a limo service!

White-water rafting – a real gas!

Riding “the Boxcar”

This past weekend, I indulged in a get-away activity I’ve been looking forward to for months. And I wasn’t disappointed.

I signed up for the “all-day” option on the gorgeous Deschutes River in north central Oregon. The river was enchanting, with quiet stretches where bird calls were the predominant music along with the quiet gurgling of the water along the shore. At one point we spotted an Osprey nest with three youngun’s waiting for parental returns with food. Then came the sound of impending rapids as we approached just before we shot through the white water to shouts of laughter and occasional yelps of surprise when we were drenched with the bracing river water.

Should you have an opportunity to raft the beautiful Deschutes River, go for it! I know I’ll sign up again!