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

Wedding Sketchers and Romance

Aren't these great? Wedding Sketchers!

Aren't these great? Wedding Sketchers!

So, the wedding sneakers are purchased. I didn’t set out to buy sneakers, per se, but needed something compfy and cream-ish to go with the amazing suit Megdar made for me. We wandered the stores and could only find ugly, clunky ‘guy shoes’ and that just wouldn’t do. Then…voila! There they were. Angels sang, choirs chorused…and then we were off on the next five errands for the upcoming event. Gah.

On Joe’s blog today (see list to the right) he answered a fan’s question thusly:

“Sam was on maternity leave, was she married to Pete?”

Answer: Nope. She was married to Jack.

If you don’t know who the above are, then simply skip over the rest of this blog and come back tomorrow. For those who do know…well, let’s just say that Joe’s comment was another in a thrilling series of hints and tidbits being handed us by TPTB lately. It’s been a virtual glut of yummy “confirmation” bits and pieces that have Carter/O’Neill ‘shippers around the world curling their toes and squealing (or squeeing) like 10-year-old girls at a Hannah Montana concert.

Ah, the thrill of promised romance. And the benefit of the Internet. We’re getting more solid confirmation from writers and producers of shows by the minute than we ever did in ten years of watching. Whatever did fans of a show do before they had the ‘net to which to turn? Ah, I remember now…fanfic.

If you don’t know, and you probably don’t, I did my Master’s thesis on fanfic. I know it seems rather silly when put that way, but it was, more accurately, a discussion of the phenomenon of textual poaching (to quote the inestimable Henry Jenkins) and the rediscovery of narrative storytelling by the general populace. Whew…heady stuff. If you’re at all interested, send me a comment, I’ll shoot you a copy. Research, like books, money, and manure isn’t good for anything unless it’s spread around.

Other things on the agenda for the week as Kit and I count down the minutes to our now state-sanctioned (for the moment) wedding are the ongoing preparations for classes this fall. This will be my first foray into teaching at the college level – other than the occasional guest-lecture gig or per diem fill-in. It’s a hybrid public speaking course, a concept which should, frankly, boggle the mind. And it does. No little pressure, the woman who really wanted to hire me is a mentor and friend…and I’m a wee bit terrified of letting her down. I need to reread the textbook – of course, it is one that wasn’t even written when I took the course a zillion years ago as an undergrad.

I’m also trying to finish that spec script – which is coming together rather well, I think.  A colleague spotted it on my desk the other day and began paging through it. He’s an ex-actor and was quite excited. “Are you auditioning?” “No,” I replied. “I wrote that.” “You’re kidding!” So, that’s either good or bad. I’m leaning toward good.

Tonight: Watching our DVR’d SGA Atlantis episode and writing.