Upwards receives first book award!

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OK, how humble is it to say “first” book award? Honestly, though, my hopes and dreams for this book continue to grow, as more people read and share their thoughts. The volume of responses is growing and opportunities for the new year are coming in fast.

A few highlights:

  • Four upcoming events in the next three weeks (details on the events page)
  • Just invited to present at the Wilderness Paddlers Gathering in Fairlee, VT in March
  • Planning two events during the Adirondacks’ Celebrate Paddling month in June
  • And, of course, Honorable Mention in the category of Biography/Autobiography from the New England Book Festival.

The Boston-based New England Book Festival, sponsored by JM Northern Media, recognizes the best books of the holiday season in 17 categories. Winners are judged on “general excellence and the author’s passion for telling a good story” and “the potential of the work to reach a wider audience.”

To balance out the many hours devoted to the book, I continue to plan for next summer and enjoy today. A deluge of rain, amid temperatures as high as 55 degrees, has washed away much of our snow. The sight of green grass and brown leaves has been a welcome change. Sunday’s afternoon walk, on boots not snowshoes, felt free and unencumbered.

I tramped, I tromped, the trail more brown than white, looking around at the woods, rather than down at my feet. You know how it feels when you’ve just climbed up, then down, a mountain and hit the flat? The joy of simply swinging along is wonderful.

Gone, though, was the hushed white wonderland of winter. Every step was a loud crunch, either on a couple of inches of frozen remnant snow or, mostly, on frosty ground. Crunching along at a good pace, out to the edge of an old beaver pond.

There, nature had sculpted striking designs in the paper-thin sheet of ice that rimmed the pond. I walked a few feet out to sit on a log, trying not to destroy too much of the beauty, finding an inch or two of air between the ice and solid ground below. The sound of my progress was deafening, all wildlife no doubt well warned of my visit.


When I sat, though, to take in the play of the brilliant sunlight across the ice, the ruckus continued. A vigorous wind, rustling the trees in the pond, gave the ice a tortured voice. The grinding, cracking, and squealing never let up, and the cold soon nudged me to head back home to a cup of hot cocoa and my never-ending to-do list.

As my faithful readers know, I am still learning the ins and outs of social media, and recently discovered that my automatic sharing of posts somehow missed the last one. If you’d like to join me on an earlier walk, here is my January 5th post.

 

A country book goes to the city…and other nice moments

November has arrived with brisker air and comparative calm after Sunday night’s monumental winds and rain. Our town is still mostly without power, but neighbors are helping neighbors in the true Maine spirit. Why are the lyrics to “The Maine Christmas Song” suddenly playing in my mind?

School for us has been closed for three days, and I’ve accomplished a lot on my “to-do” list, including sleeping nine hours last night. I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story. Look for another post soon about an initiative to get Upwards into our libraries.

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Presenting Skidompha Library director Pam Gormley with a copy of Upwards at Sunday’s celebration. The inscription read: “To Skidompha, the library at the heart of our community.”
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Friends and family, including Phil, Linda, Sue, and Mary did everything but sign the books. Also helping were Pam, Mal, Bill, and Hannah – hats off to you all for the delicious food, cashiering, videography, photography, and more. It was a perfect afternoon!
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On a book signing visit yesterday, I safely passed (twice) under this tree held up just by wires.
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Post from my Swampscott, Massachusetts friend Janet today: “Reading this on a bus in Boston this morning! What an adventure!”

Wow, we’ve arrived at our new website

The more twists and bumps in the road, the slower you go and the more time there is for learning, reflection, and appreciating the scenery along the way.

I went looking this morning for a quote that articulated all that I am feeling as, one by one, the roadblocks to printing Upwards fall behind. I couldn’t find one, so I wrote one. Yesterday, the book went to press, which we’ve discovered is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Dad is already planning a road trip down there in mid-October to fill his truck with boxes of books, 1,000 copies for the first print run.

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With Jane Karker, president of Maine Authors Publishing, having a first look at the interior press proofs. There will be 10 pages of color photos in the center of the book.

What is on my list of author chores this weekend? Writing this post, most importantly, to let everyone know that the book launch party will happen in late October. The delay has given me precious time to work on marketing and publicity and business tasks such as getting set up to accept credit card payments and collect Maine state sales tax. My next post, very soon, will announce the exact date and location for the book launch! In the meantime, I would love to hear back from a few of you that this post reached you fine.

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It’s amazing how excited this pile of stuff makes me. My Square gadget, for an extra $29, will be able to accept chip credit cards. I’ve joined the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, am scheduling presentations, and there, on my brand-new business cards, is the cover of Upwards!

Fonts, blurbs, and dingbats: Putting the finishing touches on Upwards

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Like this porcupine, I’m scrambling to finish by the publisher’s deadline for the fall trade catalog

After returning home from Virginia (and waiting for the laptop that I left in my bedroom there to arrive by Fed Ex), it was time to accept or reject Dan’s edits. Dan Karker, my editor from Maine Authors Publishing, not only found mistakes, but added consistency to the style and formatting of the manuscript. And boy did I have a lot of commas to move around! I added scene breaks, cleaned up my bibliography, and even paid $90 for permission to use two opening quotes from Sigurd Olson that were dear to my heart.

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The owner of Ecopelagicon in Rangeley ordered 4 autographed copies, my first commercial sale

With the edits finished, photos chosen and captioned, and graphics in hand, it was time to go up to Maine Authors Publishing for the design meeting. From here on out, the book will be in the designer’s artistic hands. Decision by decision, the interior layout is coming together, as Wendy Higgins translates my ideas into PDF drafts. Next week I hope to receive the first full-length layout, and September 1 is the finish line, when the press proof must be done.

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What a delightful surprise and honor to have Gil Gilpatrick feature Upwards in his August column in the Northwoods Sporting Journal. Gil, the author of Allagash: A Journey Through Time on Maine’s Legendary Wilderness Waterway, has inspired both my paddling and writing journeys over the years.

Look for a trip report from our Jackman area NFCT trip in my next blog post!

Upwards: Two months to go!

 

Megan at Humpback Rocks above the Blue Ridge Parkway, where we hiked on Saturday

Last Thanksgiving, my daughter Megan and I chose some photos as candidates for the book’s cover. She’s a graphic designer and had been working her magic on them, but hadn’t given me even a peek. So I was beyond excited to see the two versions she liked the best.

 

View of the log cabin from Jacob’s garden. Visiting for a week has given us lots of design time together.

Friday was the evening, and we sat in the darkening living room as the first cover appeared on the computer. My heart jumped. There was Upwards and my name and it looked like a book, a beautiful book. It was absolutely an amazing moment, and then I liked the second version, Megan’s favorite, even more. Yesterday, the afternoon drifted away while Megan fine-tuned the cover and I worked on photo layout for the inside.

Who would have dreamed that publishing a book would have so many steps? I’m frazzled. There’s still so much to finish up. My editor at Maine Authors Publishing has given me his corrections, and each has to be accepted or rejected. I’m digging out childhood photos, getting the last few stubborn permissions, and searching for quotes in the public domain, to replace a few from Dr. Suess and Winnie-the-Pooh that I’m scared to use.

Inspiration comes from every attractive book I see and there sure are a lot of pretty books out there!

 

Katina and Sam treated Megan and me to breakfast at the Iris Inn, where we congratulated her on finishing her AT thru-hike and talked map details.

 

On Wednesday, I’ll head back to Maine and the upcoming design meeting, where we’ll finalize the rest of the interior look. Until then, we have plans to celebrate July 4th with lots of fun family togetherness and wish the same for all of you!

Through it all, her way

Without a doubt, there is a mystique about the Appalachian Trail, a romance that calls disciples from all walks of life. It whispers a song of misty valleys, delicate wildflowers, rushing streams, and coal-black bear – and a narrow, winding footpath across 14 states.

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My son, Taylor, on a short AT hike near Bethel, Maine years ago

 

About the thru-hiker, too, there is a mystique. Why would a person pare life down to the essentials of bare bed, utilitarian calories, unchanging garments, and set out to walk-like-a-job for many months? Thru-journeys, be they on land or water, thrill the soul – during the planning months. Later, they test the depths of commitment, tenacity, self-content, and resourcefulness. Not everyone is cut out to finish.

McAfee Knob, the most photographed spot on the AT, is still special when your friend stands there, so close to the finish

Most of you know Katina Daanen well from the integral role that she played in my Northern Forest Canoe Trail thru-paddle. Caring friend, author of The Northern Forest Canoe Trail Through-Paddler’s Companion, and insightful reader of Upwards from the start, Katina has always been there for me.

Last summer, Katina gave me a taste of thru-hiker life for a few days near the Vermont-New Hanpshire border.

 

Today my good friend will become one of a handful of people who have completed both the Northern Forest Canoe Trail and the Appalachian Trail. Hers has been a flip-flop hike, completed over two years. Avoiding the crowds, tempering the weather extremes, more and more thru-hikers are choosing to start in the middle of the trail, as she did in Shenandoah National Park.

Very special to me is the fact that I happened to be visiting Virginia when “Arachne” (her trail name) started in April 2016 and I’m here now, too! Tomorrow, Megan and I will breakfast with Katina and her husband Sam at their inn, and celebrate her accomplishment. We’ll also get to talk book details, as Katina is designing the book’s trail map. Tomorrow is sure to be a highlight of my week here in Virginia!

Upwards: The life of an author 3 months out

Three months out from what, you ask? Actually, many of you are deliberately NOT going to ask, as you’ve heard about little else from me for many months!

Just in case, though – three months out from holding Upwards in my hands. That shiny new cover, those color photos, my words in print. Actually, the cover won’t be shiny. One decision firmly made is to have a “Matte/Satin” cover. And color photos? That’s my hope and dream, but I’m waiting anxiously for cost estimates for a center section of photos.

No matter how thrilled I am about publishing, the whirlwind of life goes on. The end of the school year is upon us, bringing field trips and frenzy. This week, we visited the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, Maine. Run by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, the park cares for and exhibits only animals that are unable to live in the wild.

The more natural habitat areas were fascinating, while I struggled to watch two black bears panhandling for treats beneath a machine being fed by an endless stream of quarters, the huge glass window above obscured by a wall of captivated children.

After taking the above photo, I decided that I would learn about the Canada lynx. (That’s Canada lynx, not Canadian lynx, just like the goose). The bobcat, also found in Maine, is a different critter. Similar in size and appearance, there are differences between the two species: Bobcat = shorter legs, smaller ear tufts, smaller paws, more likely to look spotted or striped and Lynx = the opposite. The tip of a lynx’s tail is solid black, the bobcat’s black on top and white below. Plus, in the deep snows of the north woods, a sighting will probably be a lynx, well-adapted for life there.

Somewhat of a picky eater, the lynx dines on snowshoe hares at least 75% of the time, eating 1 to 2 per day. Historically, lynx populations have cycled up and down in rhythm with hare populations. In Maine, however, both have been booming for years, as young spruce-fir forests grow back following devastating waves of spruce budworm mortality. The young-growth timber provides ideal cover for the lynx’s favored prey.

I can’t recall having seen a water snake in Maine, until my visit to the wildlife park. Research seems to indicate they live only in the southern half of the state, so my best chance will be during my excursions close to home.

Out on the pond this week, it was cool and my sightings were all avian. It’s too early in the season to take the leaves for granted and the maples were particularly striking. Vivid red clumps of maple keys jumped out among the shoreline greens and pinks, and I tried to draw in calm as I paddled and let go of some of the excitement that is keeping ME keyed up!

One afternoon, swallows had overtaken the water and swooped in acrobatic dance, surely happy to find many squadrons of mosquitoes on patrol. They can also drink mid-flight, quickly scooping up water from the surface. On shore, a solitary spotted sandpiper winged from stone to log ahead of me, the first time I’d observed this species on McCurdy Pond. Now, today, a quiet Saturday, I rose with the dawn again and hope to squeeze in another paddle among the expense-filing, permission-requesting, photo-choosing tasks of a busy soon-to-be-published author.

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