The Next Big Thing…

Rachel Gold was nice enough to start us off on  this, so I’m carrying forward. As Rachel said, I don’t think I’m the “next big thing,” but I think this is a great chance to meet new authors. I’ve linked to Rachel’s site above, and since I feel as if I struck gold in “discovering” MB Panichi, I’m linking to her as well. My “second” author (Rachel doesn’t count as she added me) is the wonderful Erica Abbott.

Each author fills out a short blog interview like the one you see below and then recommends a few other authors with upcoming projects.

So without further ado, here’s my response to this blog hopping interview:

What is the working title of your next book?

Celtic Tide

Where did the idea come from for the book?

There’s a folk song about the women in Dundee, Scotland, who kept the village fed and basically alive during extremely lean years at the turn of the century.  As a musician and a writer, I wanted to explore that…the basis for men (the traditional singers of folk songs) to write a song about the efforts of women. To make it relevant to today, one of my characters is an ethnomusicologist, a careers I’d have loved to tackle had I the talent.

I have a terrific source in my aunt who is in fact a musicologist and music historian, so I’m excited to be in the middle of this project.

What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary romance.

What is the synopsis or blurb of your book?

Celtic Tide is the story of Grace O’Malley, an American musician and researcher who has run away to Ireland to escape her troubles, and Anne Flaherty, the woman who rights Grace’s upside-down world.  Though she tells herself she is simply “expanding her research opportunities,” Grace, a 35-year-old music professor, is hiding.  The scandal that rocked her small-town college shattered her confidence and broke her heart, and she wants nothing more than to tuck herself away in the small village of An Daingean (Dingle), Ireland—the village in which her grandfather grew up.

Anne Flaherty has lived in the village of An Daingean all of her life, save for two brief years away at Trinity College, Dublin.  Her time at Trinity was bittersweet, allowing her to grow and build her musical range, but battering both her confidence and her gentle heart.  A Catholic struggling with her own demons, she resists her growing attraction to the American musician, insisting on a platonic friendship, despite wanting . . . and needing . . . more.

This is Grace and Anne’s story.  Neither is looking for love and both have been deeply hurt.  Together they will heal each other and themselves, and begin to build a friendship that can only deepen into love.  This is a story that can only be told here, in Dingle, Ireland, where the endless days of summer are painted in fairylike light and the music of a community blends with the rhythm of life and love to make magic happen.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Wow. Um…I’m terrible at this part since I don’t see a lot of movies or watch a lot of TV. Let’s see…nope. I’ve got nuthin.’

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Bella published my first book and graciously accepted this, my second.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Hmm…hard to quantify, because I don’t write full-time. Truthfully, I’m still hammering out the last parts of the manuscript, but I think…yes, if I had to quantify, I’d say about six months.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

This is similar to the “get the idea…” question, but I’ll answer this: what inspired me to set it in Ireland? We took a trip to Ireland a few years ago and I fell in love with the village of Dingle (An Daingean). The pub in which Grace meets Anne is a real place. Most of the characters in the book are based upon real people from the village.

As for why Ireland and not Scotland, I wanted the book set in Ireland, but the song that inspired the story, the Women of Dundee, is set, of course, in Scotland. In working out why Grace is in Ireland and not Scotland, I also found a good deal of Grace…her reasons for moving around, her spinta.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

There’s romance, there’s music, there’s self-discovery (though this is not a coming-out story, per se).

Here are the writers whose work you can check out next:

If you’re a fan of women in uniform, Erica Abbott’s Fragmentary Blue is for you. Erica writes a tight, well-plotted tale, and her knowledge of the legal system adds terrific depth and texture to the story without being overwhelming.

I was lucky enough to be the Golden Crown Literary Society mentor to a bright new author, MB Panichi. MaryBeth’s debut novel, Saving Morgan, is due out in Fall of 2013. The best part of mentoring is the chance to read terrific new talent long before anyone else gets to.  Saving Morgan is a taught, well-crafted sci-fi story that I cannot wait to hold in my hands. The only problem I have with having read her manuscript so early is that I have to wait that much longer for the sequel.


“New” Cycling and How That Applies to Life…

I decided to post today’s pithy thoughts to my blog, since it’s been an age and then some since I’ve updated. It’s been nearly 30 years since I rode a bicycle that was not considered a “performance” bike, complete with clips (For those ‘old school’ among our audience, these are clips that the bottoms of my biking shoes snap into to secure my feet to the pedals. This is to enable you to not only push down on a stroke, but to also pull UP, thus increasing your drive on the bike.).

So…nearly 30 years since I’ve been on a bike that does not secure my feet to the pedals. For most of you, you are left wondering…well, what’s the big deal, Pol? I’ll tell you. There are actually two things:

  1. Nearly 30 years of cycling in a manner that enables action on the downstroke AND upstroke gives you a different style of pedaling.
  2. The last year since the back surgery, since waking up to have one foot/lower leg that has not regained sensation and/or 100% motor control, means that I have relied upon that toe clip to keep the “floppy leg” in position, and to have it still be a contributing member of the team.

Since I no longer have the time to do the kind of riding I used to on this bike:

My trusty Trek, with more than 3,000 miles on its frame.

Since my rides on this bike usually meant “get on, go fast, get off,” that precluded leisurely rides with my sweetie. Times, and demands, have changed. I no longer enter Century rides for charity (lack of time), and it’s lonely doing those “get on, go fast, get off” rides without my sweetie.

Thus we decided that it was time the nice road bike went on its way and in its place we welcome this new set of wheels:

New wheels.

It’s a sweet little bike, nice action, smooth Shimano gears. It’s a sort of baby mountain bike/road bike. Just what we want for leisurely weekend rides and/or camping trips with some light trail riding.

I took delivery of the new wheels yesterday. After a happy evening spent tinkering and adjusting, I took it for its first ride today. Things that I learned:

  1. The aforementioned floppy leg does not do so well just sitting upon pedals. I can push down, but there’s no pull up. When I pull up, lo and behold, the…wait for it…FOOT COMES OFF THE PEDAL! How very odd!
  2. When #1 happens, the result is that unless I take my eyes off of the road to lift and place my left foot into place (I can’t feel in that leg/foot, remember, so cannot do it by ‘feel’), said floppy foot/leg ends up kind of wonky on the pedal. The result? Floppy foot falls off said pedal, twists the attached ankle (which is okay, as I can’t feel when that happens, but I end up with no forward motion as I am not, in fact, actually propelling the bike anywhere!

The other, and far more prosaic, thing that I learned this afternoon is that I do not know how to NOT “get on, go fast, get off.” The idea of a “leisurely ride” seems to be a bit beyond my ken.

I got on, raced off, and then thought…um…now what? I raced over to my first destination (lunch), then raced over to Starbucks where I drank tea and graded papers. Then I hopped on again to run my errands. Halfway to my destination I realized that…I didn’t really have to go so fast. I could, in fact, go…slowly.

I could even take a moment and look around. Enjoy the lovely day. See who else was out and about.

What an odd thing to do; ride a bike, look around, and enjoy the scenery.

Huh.

Wonder if anyone else has discovered this?

I may have to try this again sometime.

In the meanwhile, I’ll sit here grading papers, watching football, mentally packing for my trip next week, with a little corner of my brain dedicated to working out plot points on the next book, and another to considering what it is I will make for dinner. After all, one can’t rush into this whole “leisurely” thing.

Tonight: Football and fiction, maybe some pizza


Things…and a Sneak Preview.

Well. What has happened in the near-month since I updated? I went to the Golden Crown Literary Conference, and annual writers/readers/publishers four day get-together/energy booster/meet up with friends old and new.  This year the Con was held in Minneapolis, MN. Well, Bloomfield, actually, just near the Mall of America.

What a con it was! My debut novel, Open Water (2011, Bella Books), though nominated in three categories was only shortlisted for one, “Debut Author.”  And…I won! I was one of three winners in that category and, luckily enough, the first award announced that night. Whew! Talk about getting it over with!

Posing with the wonderfully generous Karin Kallmaker. If you squint, you can see my award tucked between us.

The Con overall was great fun and a wonderful chance to reconnect with friends and to meet face-to-face with those I only know through online discussions.

I was so lucky this year to get to go.  Finances are exceptionally tight, but my stepdad gave me his mileage for my flight, and I offset the cost of registration by doing the program for the event.  My biggest cost was the hotel. Well, and the Lego Store at Mall of America. :::sigh:::

Another pic from this event was all of the Bella Authors dressed up for the awards. I love this photo!

We are, from left to right: Erica Abbott, Nat Burns, Jordan Redhawk, KG MacGregor, Dillon Watson, Karin Kallmaker, Mary Griggs, Pol Robinson, Rachel Gold, and Kenna White. Missing: Tracey Richardson, who had to head back to Canada.

When I returned, it was straight back into work on The Project (and I will update that soon).

It’s coming along quite nicely, and should soon be ready for its maiden voyage. Hopefully.

Now, with the success of one book under my belt (using the term “success” loosely here), it’s more than past time to focus on my sophomore effort. I was working on a new Olympic novel, Thin Ice, but have struggled because the story is far weightier than the first book.  For several reasons, chief among them being I want to get the Olympics books back onto the actual Olympics cycle, I have shelved it.

I have two others in the works, and last night finally got the “zing” to work on Celtic Tide, a contemporary romance sent in Ireland, featuring an American musician who, for her own reasons, settles in the town of An Daingean (Dingle, to the non-Gaelic speakers), in County Kerry.

Here is an excerpt:

Grace watched, mesmerized, as Anne’s hand flew along the neck of the fiddle, moving in counterpoint to the bow sizzling across the strings. Quick and bright, and too fast to distinguish one note from another, Anne’s fiddle filled the room with music, accompanied by Sean and Jamie. Eyes closed and foot tapping, Anne didn’t hesitate as Sean finished leading the first round of the tune, allowing Anne to pick up the melody. The music pulled an old man and woman to their feet to dance along. Tourists, American by the look of them, began to clap and laugh as the old gentleman spun his wife in a happy jig.

Tim looked up from the pint he was building and called out to the dancers, “Oh, it’s the O’Shea, is it? Well, boyo, go on then!”

The man smiled back at Tim and gave his wife another spin, pulling her arms down and across in front of her to lead the two of them through the bar, side by side, hands linked together at the waist, feet flying in tandem. Grace watched as the couple kept their eyes on each other and matched their steps together. They’ve done this for years. She laughed with the crowd as the woman gave her husband a saucy wink, ducked under his arm and began a faster step in time with Anne’s speeding fiddle.

The clapping grew louder as Jamie shouted encouragement, giving a yip as he changed key. Anne’s eyes opened and she grinned at him, raising an eyebrow in challenge. The old woman, feet flying and eyes alight, caught the exchange and shouted, “Go on with you, girl!”Anne grinned back and stepped up the tempo as she matched Jamie’s key and his change in tempo. Grace heard the transition from the fast slip jig to an even faster reel and laughed out loud as, impossibly, the two dancers moved to match the musician’s increased speed. Her fingers twitched as Anne’s bow danced across the bridge of the fiddle and Jamie bent low over his guitar, his fingers a blur on the strings.

The dancing couple once again joined together to match steps, waving two others to join them. As had the first two, the new couple easily swung into step, the four of them performing a complicated set.  Feet flashed, skirts whirled, and the music danced with them around the room.  The noise in the pub grew as the music did, ending with a crescendo of music, rousing cheers and laughter of both participants and spectators.

Suffused with the rush and joy she always felt when there was music, good music, around her, Grace happily looked around the room. This was why she’d come here, to Ireland. This…the pub, the people, and most importantly, the music. She had read and studied all of her life, but she had always known she’d have to come here, to live here, to fully grasp what she’d read. It wasn’t just the music, it was the way it was a part of their lives. Grace watched as the four dancers made their breathless way back to their tables, as Tim began building pints again, laughing and joking with customers, most of whom he’d probably known his entire life. All the studying in the world couldn’t teach her as much as one night in a place like this. The music flowing from the instruments was born in the music of the community. To begin to understand it she had to surround herself with it.

And maybe in the surrounding, she could learn to live again.—

Today: Home Depot in Canoga park for three last things. Tonight: Writing.


Free Copy of Open Water…

In honor of today being another day in the grand scheme of US Olympic trials and hopefuls, I’m giving away a copy of Open Water. Add your name in the Comments on my Facebook page (Pol Robinson) and an impartial selector (I think I’ll have the dog do it) will draw a name tomorrow morning.

I’ll send you a signed print copy (or deliver it to GCLS) or arrange for an ebook for you (and sign it via Kindlegraph). If you already have a copy, enter anyway and I’ll send the book to you and you can give yours to someone else!

And…don’t forget!
Final Olympic Qualification Regatta
May 20-23, 2012
Lucerne, Switzerland


Buy the Book.

I sure wish we could make money from fanfic, ’cause if that were the case I’d be sitting on a cool million by this point.  One story alone has generated 180-thousand hits.

Alas, there’s that whole copyright infringement, yada, yada, yada.

Open Water from Bella Books.

But, that said, I do have a book published.

I am teaching my students “persuasion” at this point in the semester and the thing I emphasize most (after ‘ethical appeals’) is for them to not forget the “ask.” What is it you want your audience to think, do, or say at the end of their persuasive speech?

Then, in the shower this morning as I was trying to figure out which to pay: mortgage or hospital bills, it came to me.

I forgot the ask!

So, now I am asking.

If you have not done so, please buy my book, Open Water, available here: Bella Books. If you’ve already purchased a copy, consider buying another to give to a friend. Or two and donating one to either a local library or a local gay/lesbian center.

If you’re uncertain, you can read an excerpt on my web page, here: Open Water excerpt.

If you are at all concerned about the “lesbian-ness” of the book, let me assure you that this book is by no means a “how-to” manual.  Believe me, I was absolutely aware that my younger cousins would be reading this (as would be my multitudes of parents). And one such parent, this one a very conservative (“I live in McCain Country,” Florida) step-mom, said, “Wow, this is quite good! I actually couldn’t put it down!” High praise indeed from a Obama-wasn’t-born-here conservative.

Thus, keeping in mind what I have often told my students on the think/do/say plan, I would like you to think about what you can afford, buy the book, and tell others to do the same.

If you buy the e-version, you can get it “Kindle-graphed,” or you can drop me a note via my Facebook page and I will send you a personalized book plate.

‘Nuf said.

For now.

Thank you.


Look! It’s Here! My Book Cover!

It’s Sunday night, it’s raining (again) here in Southern California, and I’m home alone. Just me and the dog…so, not so alone, I guess.

Is it wrong that I’m enjoying this so much? *Looks around guiltily.*

S. is still in Guatemala, so I did what any self-respecting spouse would do while she is away. I spent Friday rearranging the house. Well, not so much the house as the master bedroom and the living room. Put the treadmill in one spot, put the big comfy chair in another. So now when I (or anyone else in the house) wants to work out, the rest of us can simply lock that person into one room at the far end of the house. Works great and has forced me to use the thing more, too, which is good (and was quite necessary).

What else? Saturday morning was an early start to get M. off to his flight to Texas (only to find out hours later that he’d only made it as far as Vegas before the Gods of Thunderstorms closed all flights in and out of Dallas. He eventually made it, 24 hours later than planned). Since I was already up I stayed up to organize and pay bills.

Ick. Seriously. Iiiiick. Bleh.

Saturday afternoon was spent grading all of the assignments I had pending for a class that finished last Tuesday (thank God!). 24 students multiplied by 5 assignments=long afternoon. But, grades are posted for that class, hurrah!

Saturday evening I had dinner with a friend, but first braved CostCo. I know! On a Saturday! What was I thinking! *Shakes head.* Then, later that night, did a really stupid thing. Started a friend’s book. I think I finally fell asleep around 5 am. That was really dumb.

Sunday. Ahhh, Sunday. Spent the day with various football games on while I worked, then stopped work in time to see my DirecTV HD signal die, JUST as the Packer/Viking game was kicking off.

S.e.r.i.o.u.s.l.y.   T.i.c.k.e.d.

Oh yes. Ticked.

Went into S’s office (next biggest TV) and watched the first half there while on the fruitless customer service call with DTV. For more on their “customer service,” check out a past blog on the Olympic Games. Anyway, after convincing the woman that I did not, in fact, plan on crawling up on my roof while A) alone in my home with nobody to call 911 when I fell; and B) in the pouring rain, we agreed that she’d do as I’d initially asked and send out a service tech.

On Wednesday.

Between 8 and noon.

Murphy says the guy will get here at 11:55 am.

So…all TV’s are off again (ahh, blissful silence), the rain is pattering down outside, and my classwork is prepped for the week. We won’t discuss the doctoral reading/writing I didn’t even touch this weekend. I’m pretty much doing the minimum on that whole thing right now.

And I will never again (repeat after me) schedule myself to teach 21 units in a semester again, even when I am not writing a dissertation. And a book.

Aha! Which leads me to the very best part!

Beautiful cover designed for me by the great Linda Callaghan. The book will be available from Bella Books in spring, 2011

How. Freakin.’ Cool. Is. That!