Six Degrees of Separation from Kindred Rites

This is a meme I saw on GirlXOXO and it just looked like too much fun not to join in.

Last Book of 2014


Vampires and werewolves and worse, oh my!

Vampires and werewolves and worse, oh my!

As she did, I’m going to begin with the last book I read in 2014, Kindred Rites, by Katharine E Kimbriel (second in a series, a five star read, by the way). The first book in the series, Night Calls, is also amazing. I can’t wait to read the next one, Spiral Path which is already on my Kindle, waiting. This series is set in a slightly alternate early United States under President Madison, which includes the early settlers bringing the magics and traditions from their Old Worlds with them. Awesome stuff.


Last Book of 2013


AR_BetweenTwoThorns-400x600Okay, so that made me curious. What was the last book I read in 2013? Thanks to Goodreads, I could look and see, and discover that I’d just discovered another magical series, urban fantasy with a twist, Emma Newman’s Split Worlds. In the first book, Between Two Thorns, we learn that alongside the London and Bath we know are magical, parallel worlds that include the cities Londinium and Aquae Sulis. The characters are amazing, the magic frightening and scintillating, and the world too much fun. I inhaled these one after the other.


Another Urban Fantasy Series I Love


Rivers of LondonI used to say I didn’t read Urban Fantasy, but that’s because I didn’t know what it was, and more importantly, hadn’t discovered urban fantasy set in the UK. So yes, every urban fantasy series I love is set in the UK, surprise, surprise. I suppose the next book I’ll mention is the unfortunately renamed Midnight Riot, originally titled Rivers of London. I hope you don’t mind that I’m using that book cover, because it’s the edition I bought for my own keeper shelf. I love young copper Peter Grant, whose father is an aging, heroin-addicted jazz musician and mum is a magnificent housekeeper from Sierra Leone. This London is different from most Londons you’ve probably read about, for in addition to his erudite superior Nightingale, Peter’s personal life and assignments take us with him through the various areas of London that tourists never see, and encompass the broad range of cultures that make up today’s UK. These books are fun, smart and a trip to Old Blighty, every time I pick one up.


Books with Protagonists Named Peter


200px-DorothyLSayers_MuderMustAdvertiseOh my darlings, how could it be any other but Lord Peter Wimsey? But which one to put here? Okay, let’s go with Murder Must Advertise, which shines as jaded a light on the advertising business in 1933 when it was written as we see in Mad Men’s mid-century world and today’s. Some things never change, and I’m not just talking about the setting of this book, but the amazing Lord Peter, who is still winning hearts and souls today, just as he did when he was first penned by Dorothy L Sayers.


Anglican Authors


a_wrinkle_in_time_original_coverDorothy L Sayers not only wrote crime fiction, she also wrote theological works and translations.   Another beloved novelist, this one an American who was also known  for her theological works and was also an Anglican (Episcopalian) was Madeleine L’Engle. I first read A Wrinkle in Time when I was a girl, but The Arm of a Starfish caught me up even more vividly. I remember being at home sick and my father bringing home a stack of library books for me that included Meet the Austins. I guess I scattershot all around her oeuvre before I went back and made a concerted effort to read them all.

Books with Time in the Title


time gardenAnother blast from my past, Edward Eager’s works are the first series of books about magic I ever read, The Time Garden. This wasn’t the first book in the series I read, and in fact is probably read better later since this book about time travel has the children traveling back in time to meet children we first read about in the earlier books. But I thought it was oh-so-clever, when they found a thyme garden and discovered that there were many different kinds of thyme, and each on in this garden would take them on a different kind of adventure in time. This is probably the reason why I love planting various thymes in my own garden today, truth to tell! If you want to start earlier, though, try Half-Magic.

 Books About Siblings


ThePrinceOfTidesBrace yourself for whiplash. When it comes to books about families, few rival Prince of Tides for angst, drama, laugh-out-loud humor, and revelation. I own an autographed copy of this book in hardcover, and to this day Pat Conroy is the most gracious author I’ve ever met. Mind you, this isn’t a mark of what miserable bastids most writers are, but what a superlative gentleman he is.  As for his writing, he will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride of Southern dysfunction that you won’t forget.

Books Set on the Coast


montmarayNot the American coast of South Carolina, this time, but off the coast of France, a tiny imaginary nation where the only people left are a handful of royals and their handful or servants. In A Brief History of Montmaray the royals live in a tumbling down castle, totally destitute, and Sophie our main character even does chores, despite their cook’s efforts to keep the family in their exalted place.  This is the first book in a trilogy, and I loved it, and the later books.

This was hella fun!

Why don’t you do it, too? Let me know if you do!

The Steampunk Tea

While at the RT Saints of Suspense Party, I met Nina Davis, a fabulous local-to-me librarian. I am going to make a special effort to blog a field trip to her library, the beautiful-beyond-words Smith Public Library in Wylie, Texas. The images here don’t do it justice. When their copy of This Crumbling Pageant is on the shelves I intend to take a picture, because yes, I am that big a dork. But seriously! Wouldn’t you?

Steampunk Tea w:PosterTo my delight, Nina invited me to participate in the Second Annual Steampunk Tea, along with authors Lorraine Heath, Addison Fox, Jaye Wells, Eva Gordon, and Sandy Williams. I pulled together a few quasi-steampunk things and did the best facsimile of steampunk I could, and now see I must make this a priority. With various cons, signings and functions, I have too handy and excuse to play dress-up not to invest a little bit more in the costume!

The food was fabulous. Finger sandwiches, mini-quiches, petit fours and biscuits. (That’s Brit-speak for cookies, y’all.) Oh, and of course, tea. Darjeeling and Earl Grey. I am a sucker for a tea, and this one was elegant, with all kinds of book-related conversations!

Sometimes something happens that just makes a writer’s day, and this was one of those times. Last year my publisher and I distributed a few hundred chapbooks that contained the first three chapters of This Crumbling Pageant. The photographer from the Wylie News had not only received one, but had given it to her 13-year-old daughter to read–who LOVED it, and was dying to read the rest. I made my very first sale that day on that spot, before we even set up at the signing tables!

autographing steampunk tea

Pooks at the signing table, later in the day.

I warned her (and now you) that this book does have mature content. The best explanation I can give at this time is that there is sex that has context and consequence. Some people may be far more disturbed by the dark nature of some of the violence than any sexual content.

So, caution: Read yourself first, or know your younger YA readers’ reading history, before sharing with them! I know many read books much more graphic than this one. It’s very individual.

Again, the tea was a fabulously fun experience and I hope I get to do another one. Nina got away before I got a picture of her in her costume, but maybe next time.

Books are available:

Amazon Kindle       Amazon Paperback      Amazon Hardcover

BN-Nook      BN Paperback      BN Hardcover

Kobo      iBooks

Book Depository-Free Shipping Worldwide!

 Originally posted at the FuryTriad site.

Blog Tour Day Four: Magical Words, Max and Me

I’m in three places today. It’s bizarre. But you’ll have to follow the various links to see how this all happened.

Of course saying “Max” and “bizarre” kind of goes hand in hand.  It all started when I was going to write about Max and how she helped me with my writing on Max’s blog, and she said, wait, you can’t write about [redacted] on my blog. I don’t allow [redacted] on my blog. So I had to write about something different on Max’s blog.

So I wrote about [redacted] on Magical Words instead.

And then, I figured I might as well post excerpts of the two scenes that had [redacted] in them on the Fury Triad site, so you could see them for yourself.

Let me know what you think.

Let Max know what you think, too.



May 5: The Word Wenches  How Research Gave Me the Home I Didn’t Want and the World I Needed

May 6: Get Lost in a Story  Welcome Patricia Burroughs Q&A

Mary Robinette Kowal: My Favorite Bit: Patricia Burroughs

May 7:  Suzanne Johnson: Q-and-A With Patricia Burroughs and Win a GC

May 8:  Celluloid Blonde Of [redacted] and Aubergine

               Magical Words:  Of Adders and Writing Process

               Fury Triad: Of Adders and Rattlesnakes

And because this is what it’s all about, don’t forget that you can buy my book. Really. You can. I won’t stop you.

 This Crumbling Pageant, is  available all sorts of places.

Amazon Kindle    Amazon Trade Paperback

BN-Nook    BN Trade Paperback


Hardcover and iBook links coming soon!

Blog Tour Day Two: GLIAS and Mary Robinette Kowal

Two-fer  Tuesday!

Today I was so fortunate, I had two invitations to blog and so of course, I accepted them both. It’s the official launch day for This Crumbling Pageant, so why not?

First the amazing group of writers at Get Lost in a Story let me play along with their traditional Q&A format, in which I got to answer questions like, “Hiking boots or high heels?” and “What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done to research a book?” and “What color would you make the sky if it wasn’t going to be blue anymore and why?

And I’m thrilled to be the “My Favorite Bit” blogger on heroine of the revolution Mary Robinette Kowal’s page today!

I hope to see you there.

[And don’t forget, you can also buy the book. Well, I had to point that out.]



May 5: The Word Wenches  How Research Gave Me the Home I Didn’t Want and the World I Needed

May 6: Get Lost in a Story  Welcome Patricia Burroughs Q&A

Mary Robinette Kowal: My Favorite Bit: Patricia Burroughs


Be swept away into the first book of a dark fantasy series combining swashbuckling adventure, heart-pounding romance, and plot-twisting suspense.

Amazon Kindle    Amazon Trade Paperback

BN-Nook    BN Trade Paperback

Hardcover, Kobo and iBook links coming soon!

Why What I Think About SFWA Matters [and why I embrace being an insect]

First, the words that set off the insect army, as quoted by John Scalzi. Just for reference.

insect army color“The problem is that the ‘vocal minority’ of insects who make up the new generation of writers don’t scramble for the shadows when outside lights shines on them—they bare their pincers and go for the jugular. Maybe it is a good thing that SFWA keeps them locked up. The newer members who Scalzi et al. brought in are an embarrassment to the genre.” — (name withheld*) on, during the recent unpleasantness.

Second, if you want the big picture of what is going on, read this.

But for me, for now, it’s simply about the insect army.

I’m not a member of SFWA. I want to be, but I haven’t sold work to any SFWA-recognized publications. I care, because long before I ever planned to write in this genre, SFWA provided me and other writers with Writer Beware. I want to be a member of the pro organization that reflects my current writing.

It has been on my ‘someday’ list of priorities, as in, ‘When I am able to focus on it, I will start writing short stories and submitting to the markets that will gain my SFWA cred.’

And then all this bullshit blew up and I made an offhand remark to a friend, it’s time like these that I wonder if going through the motions of joining the SFWA matters.

The SFWA is experiencing growing pains but is on the downside of the slope, embracing the rights of all people to be represented by their professional organization with the respect and dignity that the genre deserves. This is a genre of that embraces fiction about and by all people, regardless of their race or gender-identification. And there is an effort to make sure the professional organization that purports to represent this fiction also shows respect for all people. Wow, what a concept.

Some people are confusing this with a freedom of speech issue [which it isn’t–nobody is saying you can’t write or say whatever you want, but they are saying that a professional organization has to hold to a different standard].

So my casual dismissal wasn’t fair. John Scalzi and the ‘insects’ he encouraged to get active in the SFWA are proof to me that it’s worth joining.

Still, it’s easy to shrug this off as ‘not my problem’ because I’m not a member of the SFWA.

John Scalzi, former president of the SFWA, and Mary Robinette Kowal, former Vice President and current target of the nastiness, both addressed this problem and set me straight. It’s important because it’s about how all women are viewed and treated everywhere. This is just a single example.

First Mary’s take on it:

Then I replied to the messages saying, “Honestly, I’m fine. Four years in office inured me to this so mostly I’m just laughing.”

And this is the part that I feel I should draw attention to — I was “mostly” laughing. I was also having mild stress reactions. Dry sweats, elevated heart rate. I was ready to shrug them off as, “Meh, doesn’t materially affect me. I’ve seen worse.”

Until someone pointed it out that I was basically saying, “I’m inured to being abused, because I was abused for years.” See… the things those folks are saying in that public forum? When I was in office, they would email that bile directly to me and because I was an officer, I could not chose to ignore it. I had to read every single one. And I had to reply politely to them. Strangely, sometimes I had trouble doing that, but a polite response was the one that was expected. Now? Being out of office for two years, I can say whatever the fuck I want, but most beautifully, I don’t have to read the emails.

So this is why I feel weird about writing about this. My impulse is to tell you all that I’m fine and that this has no material affect on my life. And that is true. But I also know that I am a useful representative sample of the abuse that happens to other women.

Scalzi simply voiced his own opinion at first, in defense of Mary.

Likewise, anyone who would publicly characterize a woman who has reached the highest levels of two separate creative fields (puppeteering and speculative fiction), winning awards and acclaim in both, and who has offered up a significant amount of her personal time and effort to work on behalf of others in her fields as “no one you should have heard of, and no one you should concern yourself with” is so deeply and profoundly wrong that the only thing they should feel at such an appallingly ridiculous dismissal is shame.

But then he came up with a better idea, and Mary joined him. They have created an insect army!

insect army b&wMary and I are no longer officers of SFWA, but I think our commissions at the head of the Insect Army are still in effect: After all, not every “insect” is in SFWA (yet). And so I say to you: Join John and Mary’s Insect Army! You must write! You must be fearless! You must stand your ground in the face of deeply silly insults, clacking your pincers derisively at them! And, if you believe that every person — writer, “insect” and otherwise — should be treated with the same dignity and honor that you would accord yourself, so much the better. Together we can swarm to make science fiction and fantasy awesome!

I write. I am fearless. I will stand my ground.

I believe that every person–writer, insect and otherwise, should be treated with dignity and honor.

I joined the ranks. I am a proud member of the insect army.

My friend Diane Pharaoh Francis has blogged about why it matters.

Juliette McKenna has blogged about  why it matters.

Many people have. And now I have, a little.

Join the ranks.

Be fearless.


* There was no reason to withhold the name, as the guy was stupid enough to post his insidious comments on a public bulletin board on the internet and assume nobody would see it but the troglodytes who agreed with him, and despite his threats to sue everyone, has only himself to blame.

Artwork by Ursula Vernon.

What They’re Saying About Fanfic-for-Profit

So I wrote a fanfic that has, to date, way over two million hits.

fan fiction

The Guardian* used this image without attribution to the fan artist. Irony intended or not?

I like fanfic. But the whole “Amazon is going to publish fanfic for a profit” news last week was at first glance, gobsmacking. It won’t impact me or anything I wrote, because I did not write in a fandom that has a deal with Amazon, nor will it likely ever have a deal with Amazon, and in the unlikely situation where something like that panned out, my own flights of fancy went in directions unlikely to ever get the copyright-owners public seal of approval, so I don’t have a dog in this hunt.

But as it was quickly noted, so far the only participants are television shows. They have a vested interest in building viewership and encouraging fan participation, and making money from the licensing thereof. They already do this. The arena–fanfic–is new. Licensing the use of their universes and characters for a profit is not.

It will be interesting to see if any authors join in.

If this is all new to you and you wonder, what is this thing, fanfic? As we know it, it started with Star Trek. Once the show was cancelled, fans couldn’t let go. They started writing their own stories and sharing them through the mail. And almost immediately those stories included things that didn’t make it onto a television screen, whether it was sexual content or non-canon relationships or “What if Captain Kirk was Kirk Douglas’s illegitimate son?” or … wherever the imagination took the writers. Fanfic is not always about sex or about non-canon relationships, but it often is. But most importantly, it’s people who love a universe and characters they need to tell and read more stories about it than are already told, people who want to keep telling and reading stories about it long after the official story is told. It’s legality is, if you’ll excuse me, 50 shades of grey. But it exists. And that’s why we are where we are today.

For those of you who are interested, here are some links to various discussions about the subject. Don’t forget to read comments.

John Scalzi

Another red flag:

“Amazon Publishing will acquire all rights to your new stories, including global publication rights, for the term of copyright.”

Which is to say, once Amazon has it, they have the right to do
anything they want with it, including possibly using it in anthologies
or selling it other languages, etc, without paying the author anything
else for it, ever. Again, an excellent deal for Amazon; a less than excellent deal for the actual writer.

Laura Anne Gilman


Matt Forbeck

As a writer, it feels like splitting the royalty on the book with the
owners, which seems fair. Standard royalties on work-for-hire tie-in
novels range from 8% all the way down to nada. Of course, those
contracts come with an advance, which Kindle Worlds (like all
self-published Kindle books) doesn’t offer.

There are some catches…

Steven Harper Piziks

 Don’t like the way it works? Then write your own stuff. It’s that simple.

And finally…

*The Guardian

Amazon selling fanfic may sound a great idea, but the whole point of these stories is they go where the powers that be won’t. [See image above.]


WWW Wednesday 5-15-2013 Guest Post from Steven Piziks

WWW Wednesday. As always, this meme is from shouldbereading.



Steven Harper Piziks

Put your hands together and give a WWW Welcome (do I sound like a demented camp counselor, yet?) to Stephen Harper Piziks! Yesterday, Roc Penguin released the fourth in his steampunk series. Read more about it (and see its wonderful cover) after he shares his current WWW with us.


To play along, Stephen, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

• What are you currently reading?

marvelcomicsI’m alternating between two books, actually.  On my nightstand is Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, by Sean Howe.  I love behind-the-scenes stuff about how things get made.  The other is a book on everyday life among the Vikings.  It’s research for IRON AXE, my current novel.  Oh!  And I’m reading one of my own books, Dreamer, on audio just because I can. [So, Stephen, does this mean we can get an audio of it, too? I didn’t find one. How big a tease are you, anyway? Harrumph. ~ pooks]



• What did you recently finish reading?

bryson short historyBill Bryson’sA Short History of Nearly Everything, which lives up to the  title.  Do you get the feeling that I read a lot of non-fiction these days? [I adore Bill Bryson and have listened to most of his books in audio. Not this one, though. Must amend that pronto. ~ pooks again]





• What do you think you’ll read next?

carpe jugulum kirbyProbably yet more non-fiction.  I have to do some research about trolls in folklore.  And I just got Carpe Jugulum, my favorite Terry Pratchett book, on audio, so that’s coming up when I’m in the car. [You do this, too? I have read and reread Martha Grimes’ Inspector Jury series, but now have turned to listening on audio. So much fun. As for Sir Terry, yes, his books were absolutely made for audio. So clever. So veddy British. ~ pooks, who can’t shut her gob]




Hey, it’s me again. Pooks. Didja miss me? Okay then. Finally, as promised, more about The Havoc Machine, the fourth novel in the Clockwork Empire series that began with The Doomsday Vault.

havoc machineIn a world riddled with the destruction of men and machines alike, Thaddeus Sharpe takes to the streets of St. Petersburg, geared toward the hunt of his life….

Thaddeus Sharpe’s life is dedicated to the hunting and killing of clockworkers. When a mysterious young woman named Sofiya Ekk approaches him with a proposition from a powerful employer, he cannot refuse. A man who calls himself Mr. Griffin seeks Thad’s help with mad clockwork scientist Lord Havoc, who has molded a dangerous machine. Mr. Griffin cares little if the evil Lord lives or dies; all he desires is Havoc’s invention.

Upon Thad’s arrival at Havoc’s laboratory, he is met with a chilling discovery. Havoc is not only concealing his precious machine; he has been using a young child by the name of Nikolai for cruel experiments. Locked into a clockwork web of intrigue, Thad must decipher the dangerous truth surrounding Nikolai and the chaos contraption before havoc reigns….


Paisely Vandermeir requests the pleasure of your presence.


What about you? What have you been reading lately? Put the link to your WWW Wednesday entry in comments, or just tell me!

I’m keeping a running total of my reading challenges–the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge (see banner at the bottom of the right sidebar) and my own challenge, the Embarrassment of Riches Challenge. The January wrap-up is here and here is the February Wrap-Up! And if you missed it, the March Wrap-Up is here and April here. (I haven’t posted mine yet, either!)



Blog Hop and WWW Wednesday (12-12-12)

My WWW Wednesday entry is at the bottom of this post, for those who are more interested in what I’m reading than what I’m writing.

I was invited to join in this blog hop by WP Admirer, whose post is here.  Thanks, Sarah! This is my first-ever blog hop!

The questions:

1) What is the title of your book?


2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

My muse had madcap heroines from the 20s/30s on her mind, I’m afraid, even though I was writing about a world firmly set in the (then) contemporary 90s. Before I knew it, speakeasies and flappers and romances of Christmases past were occupying my mind and the life of Paisley Vandermeir.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Louise Brooks

Romance. It was meant to be a romantic comedy, and it definitely has those elements, but it ended up having a bittersweet poignancy as well, as Paisley deals with the death, bequests and scandals of her great-aunt.

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

Louise Brooks is the obvious choice, but alas, she is dead.

Jennifer Lawrence

So I’d go for Jennifer Lawrence, whose spin in Silver Linings Playbook is spot on perfect and has the kind of tough vulnerability (compounded by being downright weird) that I see in Paisley, even though the characters are very different from one another.

Also, even though she’s much too young, I definitely can see Susan Sarandon as the fiercely independent Aunt Isadora [aka Auntie Mame on acid]. I wrote a screen adaptation of this book in which Aunt Izzy comes back as a ghost and haunts Paisley in an attempt to make her do things she wants done. That was more fun than a bag of monkeys.

As for Chris–I don’t know. He just needs to be able to look charmingly befuddled, as if he doesn’t know what just hit him, splendid in a tux, and also be willing to fight like hell for love when he finds it.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

“All she needed was a safe little scandal, and he seemed as safe as they come. Oops.”

6) Was your book self-published or represented by an agency?

Represented by an agent in its print format. The digital edition available now was published by Book View Café. I’m currently looking for an agent who specializes in my current areas of writing interest, science fiction and fantasy.

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

Probably three months, though that was once I sold the proposal. Creating the idea, characters, proposal–that all takes more time than I can usually calculate because some of these things live in my head for years before I actually put them down on paper.

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

The fashion! Aunt Izzy left a magnificent couture wardrobe behind, and Paisley is having to let go of it one memory at a time.  I am not a fashionista, but I had so much fun researching this book!

And I had fun with this blog hop. Thanks, Sarah/WP Admirer for inviting me!

I’m tagging these terrific writers, all of whom have tales to tell!

Jeffrey A. Carver
Katharine Eliska “Cat” Kimbriel
Pati Nagle
Steven Harper Piziks
Deborah J. Ross

Now for WWW Wednesday. Again, this meme is from shouldbereading:


To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

• What are you currently reading?

I’m listening to The Twelve Clues of Christmas (A Royal Spyness Mystery) by Rhys Bowen. Yes, it’s set in the 30s. Do you detect a trend? It’s the newest book in a series of mysteries set between the wars in England. “Her ridiculously long name is Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, daughter to the Duke of Atholt and Rannoch. And she is flat broke. As the thirty-fourth in line for the throne, she has been taught only a few things, among them, the perfect curtsey…” Lots and lots of fun.

• What did you recently finish reading?

Khepera Rising, by Nerine Dorman. Horror… fantasy… not sure which it’s considered but it’s graphic, brutal, compelling, and I liked it a lot. Set in South Africa, and the first book I’ve read about that nation that wasn’t political. Nerine says, “Khepera Rising is my first novel, a tale following the doings of Cape Town-based black magician James Edward Guillaume. Themes in this work include drug abuse, religious intolerance, violence, magic, alternative cultures and sexuality.” Yep, that pretty much sums it up!

• What do you think you’ll read next?

I can never answer this question!

What about you? What have you been reading lately?  Put the link to your WWW Wednesday entry in comments, or just tell me!


Count me in…

Amongst the ranks of the certifiably insane.


Because, dear reader, I’m in.

What is it? National Novel Writing Month, where I and around 300,000 of my closest friends will attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days!

I will be posting a daily word count, and I hope to have cheerleaders. Get ready to say “yay!” and “you go, girl!” and “wake up and write, ya loser!” (Wait. That last was not exactly cheering.)

Are you in?

Flashback to September 28, 2007

I didn’t realize that the entire history of planetpooks is not here on  Several years still live at  I had no idea, and need to decide what to do about that.  In the meantime I’m reposting this for Billie Sue Mosiman, thriller and horror writer, and old friend from the magical world of GEnie, who is contemplating a cruise. She mentioned curling up with a book, and I remembered, oh yes, I remembered…


September 28, 2007

As we leave our last island, my view from my wing chair in the library:




And my chair by the window:




Sorry for the whiplash, but I’m yanking you back to 2012 now.  Almost five years have passed since that cruise.  I am not a cruise person.  That’s the only one I’ve ever taken.

I sat in that chair for more hours than I can count, and wrote thousands of words. The views were amazing and the atmosphere quiet.  I only recall one other passenger entering the library while I was there.  Who goes on a cruise to sit in the library?  I guess I did, and believe me, I’d love to spend a writing week there again.  It was a beautiful library, and I propped my feet on the window sill with my laptop in my lap and wrote a new world.  I had to rearrange furniture a bit to do so, mind you.  The chair usually faced into the library, not out.

We were on the Pride of America, the Norwegian Cruise Line.

Just for the record, it is the only cruise in the world that is governed by American (in this case, Hawaiian) law. It departs from and returns to Honolulu, and in the meantime visits four islands.  With the exception of the last day, all travel is done at night.  You wake up already docked, ready to take off and explore the island.

Unlike other cruise lines that were docked where we were, we were allowed to stay on the island hours longer than they were.  It seems like there might have been one night where passengers weren’t required to come back at all, but my memory may be bad on that. We were told it is because the other cruise lines originate in Canada, the US or Mexico and thus don’t have to follow Hawaiian laws unless they are in American waters.  Thus they grab their passengers early enough to get back out into international waters for the nightly gambling.  There is also an issue of port fees.  Our cruise paid to stay longer than the others did.

Because this cruise has to follow Hawaiian laws, its crew is 90% American (that percentage may not be exact, but it was a high number).  This also makes it different from other cruises.  Some passengers liked the fact that all the crew wore name tags with their hometown listed and the general atmosphere was casual and friendly.  I also heard complaints from seasoned cruise folks who preferred the less casual atmosphere of their previous cruises. The dress code is also different and more casual from most cruises.

There were some restaurants that required reservations and were not part of the package. The main dining room had an upstairs and downstairs. Upstairs was for those who wanted the more upscale experience and had a dress code. Downstairs was more casual.  I think they served the same menu. The food on the cruise was plentiful and good.  We hit most of the restaurants at one time or another, including the sports bar where I watched the Cowboys win (and was the only Cowboys fan present, which was fun).

Those are just a few of my memories of that trip which may be of interest if you’re considering a Hawaiian cruise. I personally like the fact that the boat is under American/Hawaiian jurisdiction, since there are a lot of scary things that happen in international waters and the US hasn’t been that successful in getting justice of our citizens. That wouldn’t stop me from taking another cruise if I wanted to, mind you. But it was definitely something I liked.

Now, the other part of looking back.  That state room held the week-long slumber party where the four of us–my mother, sister, niece and I–were crammed into too small a space all together due to various confusions prior to boarding. We often laughed until tears rolled down our cheeks, I said a few words that made my niece laugh hysterically, my sister gasp and my mom pretend she hadn’t heard them. It’s where we gave my mom the time of her life.

It’s also where we saw my mother’s back covered with unexplained bruises and discovered that her doc would start running tests when she got home.  That was the beginning of the end, though like my mother, there was no tragedy involved, just a lot more love and laughter as her body finally let go.

I’ve just returned from Hawaii again. This time, we were there for my youngest son to get married to my beautiful new Hawaiian daughter-in-law.  Once again, I return filled with memories of laughter and love and beauty, and the constant presence just over my shoulder of my mother’s memory.

Damn, she would have loved that trip.

In fact, I’m pretty sure she did.