Sunday, March 26, 2017

Books on the Fly... Also, She Speaks!

Hello, Dear Reading Public.

I'm just stopping by the old blog  to direct your attention to where they have put together a nice interview with yours truly as author of the day today (3/26). The interviews get archived so if you miss it today, you can circle back around when it suits.

The interview is in connection with a temporary price drop on the ebook: 99 cents in the US and 99 pence in the UK for the rest of the week.

I'll have more to say about this charming duck and his book in a new story.  Stay tuned.  In the meantime thanks for your time and interest.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Some Twitter Gold For You, Dear Reader

Good one. And here are some lovely pictures of Blighty from the Sheffield Lady: And a funny:

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Malcolm Gladwell Talking Sense

 Yes, I'm in the camp that feels like my fellow Americans have, somehow, chosen to be led by the anti christ. OK - he's not as charismatic or smart as the AC is likely to be and so there's some hope in that, but - any way, to my point.

 In the midst of all the baying I found respite and hope in this short interview of Malcolm Gladwell.  The interviewer, one of a species of lefty British types who specialize in dudgeon, is outclassed by Gladwell, who is obviously thinking for himself and not regurgitating the script the interviewer seems to have written for him.

Of course I found this over on BBC Radio 4 - which is a wonderful place.  An interview with the writer Lionel Shriver is included as part of the same series and I recommend that one to you too.

Buckle on your helmets, America.  Here we go.  As Gladwell notes, if Trump had more substance we might need to be more concerned. I've decided to look at this next four years as a period of illness that will make us appreciate and safeguard our health much more diligently post-Trump.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Thanks - The Books are in the Mail

Thanks to all who entered the recent Goodreads Giveaway,  The books have been despatched, as some people used to say.  I still have a few of the first editions up for grabs (see previous post) if you're looking for a group-read.

Just for stopping in today I have a little thank you gift for you - a book recommendation.  If you liked Up, Back, and Away I think you will love the trilogy of books written by Adrian Bell about how he became a farmer in Suffolk back in the 1920s.

I read that Bell's books went to war with English soldiers during World War II.  They carried his books in their packs and he carried them home to their countryside.  He's a wonderful writer and you won't be sorry if you give him some of your time.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Somewhere There's A Book Club Where We Belong... Win Some Paperbacks!

Under my desk, there is a box.  It is about half full of early printings of Up, Back, and Away - Version 1.0, before I made a few corrections and commissioned a genius to illustrate the cover.  These early paperbacks look like this:

The way we were...

Despite being put in the shade by Juan's brilliant cover illustration,  these books still have a little piece of my heart.  I hate to think of them languishing like Jessie in Toy Story in a dark box. So, in this holiday season, what I would like to do is send them to you and your bookclub.

I will send up to ten copies to the club/club(s) representatives making a request.  If more than one group writes in (leave a comment here with some form of contact information or email me at, I will put names in a hat and draw them out.  I will sign all the books so you'll want to hold onto your copy for that day when Sotheby's comes calling.  I think there are about fifteen in the box...  Say how many you would like, give me an address in the U.S. (sorry, too expensive to ship over borders - but see note below re: ebook), and hey presto.  First come, first served.

If your group gets around to actually reading the book and you want me to come via Skype to the meeting when you chat about it - just come back here and say so.  Or send me an email at the aforementioned I'd be honored.

For those of you who have moved on from paper or who are in England, starting Dec. 16, 2016, you can get the e-version (with lovely cover and corrections) for 99 cents in the US and 99p across the pond on Amazon for one week.

But don't let that stop you asking for these copies.  I live to serve and to send paperbacks.

Leave a comment.  Email me. Tell your friends.  Thanks for stopping by.  Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Ready, Steady, WRAP!

"Tandembaum" by Juan Wijngaard, brilliant artist and cover illustrator of Up, Back, and Away
You-Know-What is coming.  I'm no where near ready - but, friends, I am making plans.  I'll have a little something for everybody - and that means YOU too - later this month.

In the meantime, just to say Happy Hols and thanks for stopping by, here's a link to one of my new favorite BBC Radio programmes: Choral Evensong on Radio 3.  This is, "A Service for Advent with Carols" recently recorded live at the Chapel of St. John's Cathedral in Cambridge.

If you have been around here before you know that since I discovered the iPlayer app (q.v.- the app works brilliantly to dial up the whole universe of BBC radio - and it is a vast universe).  British public radio puts ours in the shade. Choral Evensong is one of many long-running programmes (I always mentally pronounce the "e" there, being American) that I have come to love.  The only down-side is that all that fabulous radio has cut down on my reading.  If you have a tip for a book I should check out, leave it here or over on Goodreads.

More later. Best wishes for a bright season.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Origin Story

When the cover was a work in progress,,, by Juan Wijngaard

I was asked not long ago by a bookseller to contribute an essay about what inspired me to write Up, Back, and Away. Here's the answer, if you're also curious.

How'd You Get the Idea In the First Place?

As it happens, I can tell you!

I was listening to my iPod, Adele’s first album,one spring morning in 2007 as I was walking along the Stowe, Vermont Recreation Path. 

It’s a beautiful path that follows a rocky stream through woods and fields with the Green Mountains in the long view.  I had recently left full time work for a half-time job (I’m a government lawyer by day) and I had two kids in school.  This meant I had a little mental space and time with which to work for the first time in years.  I had been a writer before law school, for local newspapers and in a college PR office, and I had continued writing (for fun) on a blog that I have kept since 2006.  I mention this because I was in the writing habit, which helped, I think, to keep ideas coming.  The walking part is important too.  I walk every day if I can.  I got to thinking that day as I listened to Adele sing about how important it was for gifted people to arrive at the right place and time if their gifts are to be realized.

When this thought flitted across my mind, I immediately thought of Thomas Gray’s famous, ‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.’  It contemplates, among other things, those whose talents never stood a chance: circumstances were arrayed against them from birth. For most in that churchyard, it was the time and place in which they were deposited that was fatal.  I wondered what if some exceptional people weren't constrained by the circumstances of their birth?  What if the Universe had a way of, very occasionally, correcting these mistakes?  Of shifting people born in the wrong time and place to the place in time where they and their talents could flourish?

What about, a time travel story? One with a cosseted but basically good American rich kid at its center?
What's on the other side? I didn't know. I went through.

Sending  my young hero to England in the 1920s would give me a chance to write about many of my favorite things: : English language and literature, social history, the differences between English and American culture, as well as their similarities, and about how we all must meet the challenges that life throws at us.   I could also write about fun stuff (for me) Staffordshire pottery, London in the twenties, the English countryside and English country living at its last gasp between the wars. I could include three-speed bicycles and manual typewriters and dogs and old buildings and old songs and new music and stranger-in-a-strange land and all of that! The revolution in the place in the world of the western woman is the great story of the last 100 years.  With time travel I could explore this, as well as the timeless story of the struggle to find courage and to come of age. How about a rescue mission – where our hero has to find a girl born out of her time and a secret not meant to be and then get home with them both so that she has a chance to fulfill her artistic destiny?

It was my own small “J.K. Rowling moment” –  the one we’ve all heard about, when Ms. Rowling was riding on a train and suddenly had an idea for a story about a school for young wizards?  I know I’m no J.K. Rowling, but I think I experienced something of the same thrill.
The book unfolded itself right there.

Well, sort of.  I then had to spend the next five years working it all out.

It wasn’t all joy, working on the book.  But it did a great deal for me personally.  I enjoyed the research, writing the characters into being, and working out the plot lines.  Mostly I was trying to write the book I wished was out there for me to read when I was growing up.