About that new book

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I am the ultimate morning person. The fresh promise of a new day always energizes me, and I can often be found writing as the sun rises, at least in the darker months. Today, here in Bremen, Maine, the sun rose at the precocious hour of 4:54 a.m., as it has for the last week or so. This is the third day of my summer vacation, so I was still deep in sleep at that hour. Nonetheless, I arose a little later with a much-anticipated mission—to give you all a glimpse into my new book and update you on recent milestones.

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There is no better place to begin my story than with Maine Authors Publishing, my partner in publishing and marketing my work. Located in Thomaston, around twenty-two miles from my home, MAP has welcomed me into their fabulous community of authors and guided me through the years with wisdom and patience.

As a veteran author, navigating the publishing process has been smoother this second time around. One week ago, the edited manuscript was returned to me. Hundreds of edits, many repetitive in nature, awaited review. As I worked through them, the value of professional editing was once again clearly apparent. I learned a lot, too.

I hereby resolve to remember not to indent the first paragraph of a chapter or section, to spell good-bye with a hyphen and nonprofit without one. Note, in top paragraph, how proudly I exhibit my newly acquired ability to insert an em dash in place of a minus sign. Perhaps there won’t be so many edits next time around!

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With Upwards, the adventure inspired the writing. With Through Woods & Waters (or will it be Through Woods and Waters?) , the writing inspired the adventure. By spring 2018, I was yearning to embark on another long wilderness expedition, one that could become the subject of a second book. I wanted a compelling destination and challenges in getting there. Tough river sections, novel vistas, thrilling beauty, rich history—I found them all on the way to and through newly established Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. (Look, another em dash!).

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My travels began with a backpack and hiking boots, following the International Appalachian Trail up and over mountains and along part of the river I would later descend by canoe. After the backpacking trip and a long-awaited book event, I put my small canoe in at the western end of Seboomook Lake, some 150 miles from the national monument boundary. Going the long way ’round allowed me to incorporate a couple of hitherto unexplored alternative routes of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, as well as the upper reaches of the East Branch Penobscot watershed.

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Shortly after creating this blog in spring 2015, I wrote a post about the “why” of attempting a solo NFCT thru-paddle. That post, entitled May you find fireplace birds, still rang true as I embarked on my newest adventure. Should you decide to come along on the journey, you will see that I found more this time than I ever could have anticipated.

 

A special date for the release of Upwards

Grandma Jan

Today would have been my maternal grandmother’s 110th birthday. Growing up, Grandma Jan and I shared a love for books and birds and wildflower walks. Through her, I discovered treasured favorites like The Secret Garden, and she encouraged me to publish my first article at age 13. I have chosen today, October 19, 2017 as the official release date for Upwards, in honor of a very special woman.

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The weather has been glorious for fall paddling with family and friends. Karen Jones, who I met at the Maine Canoe Symposium, joined me for a paddle (and swim) on nearby McCurdy Pond.

As you may imagine, the five days since the books arrived have been incredible. Incredibly busy, humbling, energizing, exhausting, and amazing. A quick update:

  1. Friends who are reading Upwards like it. A simple statement, but imagine writing for well over a year, then transforming those words into a book (over another long five months), then handing a copy to a friend. And holding your breath..
  2. You can now purchase the book here, as well as on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail and Maine Authors Publishing websites. Our Amazon listing is a work in progress, as we are debating which categories and keywords to use.
  3. Books are on their way to or have recently arrived at: The Maine Coast Book Shop in Damariscotta, The Corner Shop in Greenville, The Birches Resort in Rockwood, Ecopelagicon in Rangeley, and even Newbury Kayak & Canoe in Newbury, MA.
  4. This coming weekend, I will be in North Conway, NH speaking at a conference of the U.S. Power Squadrons. If you’re in the area, the public is welcome to stop by Sat., Oct. 21, from 2 to 5 p.m., downstairs in the North Conway Grand Hotel. I’m bringing my canoe and gear and will, of course, be signing books. More news soon!

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!

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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