Showing posts from October, 2007
I'm reading The Great Upheaval--America and the Birth of the Modern World, 1788-1800 by Jay Winik, and I cannot help but be struck again with amazement at a generation that produced a Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton, Washington, Madison, Adams, Benjamin Rush, Thomas Paine, Gouverneur Morris and others.

Can we say with certainty that others would have risen to the occasion? I don't think so. The combination of brains, charisma, talent and leadership in that generation of Founding Fathers was something special. They were able to hammer out a fledgling republic when every nation in Europe anticipated failure. They even overcame the difficulties of the Articles of Confederation and the antipathy of their own countrymen to create the United States.

To me, histories like this read like thrillers. So much could have gone wrong with so little effort. A stray bullet could have taken out George Washington, who gained power by refusing power, something no other political leader might…
We drove up to St. George Island off the Panhandle for a quiet weekend at our friends' Larry and Sherry's beachhouse. I like St. George Island because it's the anti-Spring Break beach. No bungee jumping, no rentals full of 20 drunk students, just families and full time residents and small buildings that don't block the views of the Gulf.

The weather was chilly, which suited me fine. I like the off season when you can walk along the beach and come back to a nice fire and a cup of tea. The guys watched (and wept) as the Gators got bit by the Bulldogs, and I read and slept. This morning as I was sitting out on the back porch drinking my coffee, Larry pointed out a pod of dolphins jumping in the water in front of us, playing and fishing. We were also in a Monarch butterfly migration path, and all weekend butterflies would drift by, traveling from the east on their way to Mexico for the winter.

I also came up with some new ideas for my new novel. I blame my friend who s…
I just finished an amazing fantasy novel, The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch. It's like Sabatini and Stevenson and Lieber and Dumas and maybe even a little Twain all rolled up into one exciting package. A poor orphan survives by his wits and cunning, pitting his skills and the skills of his brothers-in-larceny against the aristocracy of a decadent society. Swordfights, magic, friendship, thieves and more, winding up to a breathless and spectacular finish.

I highly recommend it, and it's now out in paper.
It's been a hectic day, and not in the "I got a lot of writing done" sense. I got home late in the morning from traveling to a friend's wedding in North Carolina. That was a fun weekend, but getting up at 4:30 a.m. to catch a flight home kind of puts a damper on my brain activity for the rest of the day.

Then the vet called and said while they were cleaning Yofi's teeth they discovered two needed to be extracted. I knew one was potentially rotten, and she is nine years old, but the other caught me by surprise. Poor puppy! She's now home again, resting after her ordeal and will be on soft foods and antibiotics for the rest of the week.

I know the rest of my pup's family and apparently there's a genetic predisposition there to have tooth issues. It's my fault too--while I've always given her dental aiding treats and rawhide chews, I haven't been brushing her teeth. My dachshund is wonderfully good natured, but that's where she drew t…
I've been doing research today on signs and symptoms of yellow fever for my next novel. There's a saying around here that it was DDT and air-conditioning that civilized Florida. There's some validity to that. We still had yellow fever epidemics in Florida well into the 20th century. If you walk through the older cemeteries you can see clusters of epidemic victims' graves. Once the mosquito was identified by Dr. Walter Reed and his team as the vector for the disease, a vaccine could be developed and eradication efforts could begin. We still get mosquito fogging trucks rolling through at the height of the season, though they use different chemicals now. And air-conditioning boosted home construction and sales after WWII, sending Florida's population soaring.

Now, some would say that was a mixed blessing. I'll leave that to future generations to debate. However, "yellowjack" as it was known, could still make a comeback. Cases have been found …
So I'm watching Heroes in real time, which means I'm watching commercials too. One comes on for a toy playhouse for little girls, all in pink and pastels, and it features a kitchen and a laundry room and the tag line is "Make her dreams come true" as the little girl is shoving play clothes into the dryer.

"Make her dreams come true"? Doing laundry? Cleaning house? I don't think so! Those are chores, not dreams! I am incensed! If you want to do a commercial for little girls with the tagline "make her dreams come true" how about showing her practicing surgery?! Or landscape gardening? Or being an astronaut? What year is this, 1955?

Did the last 40 years of women's liberation go away when I wasn't looking?

And I won't even mention the "Always" pad commercial with the electric bull.
Fall has finally come to North Florida. This week has a been a delight, with clear skies, moderate temps and low humidity. I've got my winter comforter out sunning itself in the backyard in preparation for its switching out with the summer bed linens. The AC is off. I wore a sweatshirt to walk the dog the other morning.

If I'm not around much today, it's because I'm taking advantage of the weather and attending the Butterflyfest at the Museum.
I was on the air this morning for WUFT-FM/WJUF-FM, doing the Fall Membership Campaign for our public radio station. We came close to hitting our $6,000 goal in Morning Edition, but fell short by a few hundred dollars. That was disappointing, but as the Development Director kept reminding me, we set the bar very high. I hope we'll break past $6,000 when I'm there again next Wednesday.

Oh, and I pledged for our anniversary poster, which is fab! I love Jim Harrison's work, and have a few of his prints and "Gainesville Fruit Company" notecards around the house.
The 4th of each month is when I have a turn blogging at the HEA Cafe. So here's this month's musings:


Last month I blogged about “writing what you know”. This month I’m blogging about “writing what you don’t know”.

My newest novel takes place mostly aboard a British frigate during the Napoleonic Wars. My desk is now piled high with research books, some from the library and some I’ve purchased for myself. I am full of Royal Navy trivia, and yet I know going into this that there’s no group of reading fans more rabid than Royal Navy buffs (with the possible exception of US Civil War buffs). They will catch your mistakes–or what they think are your mistakes–so fast it’ll make your pixels spin.

For example, I have to figure out the date of my book. If I have it set before 1805, the warrant officer who assisted the surgeon was called the surgeon’s mate. After 1805, he’s technically the surgeon’s assistant, but no do…