Wednesday, April 1, 2020

IWSG: How’s your world? (A Long, Strange, Trip)

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Otherwise, when you leave a comment, people can't find you to comment back.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 
Remember, the question is optional!
April 1 question - The IWSG’s focus is on our writers. Each month, from all over the globe, we are a united group sharing our insecurities, our troubles, and our pain. So, in this time when our world is in crisis with the covid-19 pandemic, our optional question this month is: how are things in your world?

The IWSG question came through on my email while I was in a pretty weird place, and almost made me laugh. Because our world was at once amazing, and utterly surreal.

Here's the story: While my husband and I were exploring Antarctica (along with approximately 160 fellow passengers, staff and crew of the Oceanwide Expeditions vessel Plancius), the world fell off a cliff. That’s how it looked to us, at least, as we emerged from a week of awe-struck exploration of the Antarctic Peninsula to realize that... we couldn’t go home.

That was a pretty literal “can’t go home.” We were not allowed to land at our port of origin in Ushuaia, Argentina (Tierra del Fuego). At first, it looked like we’d just be quarantined on the ship for an extra day, then allowed to land, and some of us would still be able to catch our flights. Before we reached port, however, we got word that Argentina had shut down all internal flights, AND closed all hotels, etc. Under the circumstances, Oceanwide Expeditions could not disembark us in Ushuaia, even if the local authorities would allow it.

The next choice was to cruise to Buenos Aires, a trip predicted to take about a week. In the end, Argentina closed their borders to us entirely, and we landed (after much negotiation on the part of Oceanwide) in Montevideo, Uruguay.

In the meantime, we had endured a rather typically rough crossing of the Drake Passage (or maybe a bit worse than average). For me, that made staying on the ship something pretty akin to hell, as I endured 72 hours of intense seasickness. I then got to enjoy about 3 days of nice weather, before we hit another moderately rough day and I spent another 3/4 of a day in my bunk.

No one on the ship was as happy as I to reach Montevideo, and tie up at a pier where the ship did not move at all (though my body never quite believed that, and in fact is still trying to readjust).

It took three days to get all passengers off the ship to confirmed flights out of there. No one could land without a flight, and my husband and I got off on the 3rd day. As far as we know, only one person is stuck in Uruguay, though at least one other is unable to return home anytime soon, and quite a lot are in quarantine in their home countries, where the governments are being aggressive in trying to slow the spread of the Corona virus.

During the lead-up to leaving the ship our concern was wholly on getting home, without much thought as to what that would be like, but as we spent hours in airports trying to get there, the extent of the change in the world was borne in on us.

We are home now, still trying to work out just what this all means for us, let alone for the world. One result: our family will be together, as our younger son is moving back home to continue his on-line education until the university reopens, due to arrive today. Finding private and quiet spaces for 4 people to work on computers has been a challenge, but hey--we all need something to do while we shelter in place, right? Plus, moving books and furniture gave me a good workout.

So while our weird world was a bit more exotic than most peoples', we have in fact had an amazing and memorable trip--even more so than expected! But... I don't recommend international travel during a pandemic :)

And no, I will not be taking any more cruises. Oceanwide, the staff and the crew of the Plancius were amazing, and I will recommend them to anyone who asks. But I am clearly not meant for a sailor, and shall stick to canoes and kayaks.

That lengthy tale doesn't leave much room for writing news... just want to share that Frostfire Worlds has come out at last, with my story "The Revenge of Gorg." Looks like a nice collection!,204,203,200_.jpg

Also: writing did happen during all the travel. More on that as things settle down, but edits on Death By Donut are under way, along with some bonus short stories!

Hope you are all getting lots done with your enforced writing time! And check back on Friday for the first of my Antarctica photo posts. Penguins: as good as cats for lifting your mood.

All images and text ©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2020, unless otherwise indicated.
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Middle Grade Monday: The Line Tender (Audiobook)

Title: The Line Tender
Author: Kate Allen. Read by Jenna Lamia
Publication Info: Hardback by Dutton, 2019. 384 pages. Audiobook by Listening Library, 2019.
Source: Library digital resources

Publisher’s Blurb:
The Line Tender is the story of Lucy, the daughter of a marine biologist and a rescue diver, and the summer that changes her life. If she ever wants to lift the cloud of grief over her family and community, she must complete the research her late mother began. She must follow the sharks.

Wherever the sharks led, Lucy Everhart’s marine-biologist mother was sure to follow. In fact, she was on a boat far off the coast of Massachusetts, preparing to swim with a Great White, when she died suddenly. Lucy was eight. Since then Lucy and her father have done OK—thanks in large part to her best friend, Fred, and a few close friends and neighbors. But June of her twelfth summer brings more than the end of school and a heat wave to sleepy Rockport. On one steamy day, the tide brings a Great White—and then another tragedy, cutting short a friendship everyone insists was “meaningful” but no one can tell Lucy what it all meant. To survive the fresh wave of grief, Lucy must grab the line that connects her depressed father, a stubborn fisherman, and a curious old widower to her mother’s unfinished research. If Lucy can find a way to help this unlikely quartet follow the sharks her mother loved, she’ll finally be able to look beyond what she’s lost and toward what’s left to be discovered.

My Review:
I listened to this book a bit piecemeal—until I reached the tipping point and had to listen through a two-hour hike to finish the story, though I don’t normally like to listen while hiking in beautiful places (which was why it had taken me a while to get to that point). I engaged with the characters, which made the “other tragedy” referred to in the blurb a real gut-punch, even though I guessed it was coming. 

In some ways, this is one you could add to a fairly long list of middle-grade books about kids dealing with loss, usually that of a parent. But I can’t say this felt at all formulaic. I particularly appreciated the science aspect of the story, and that part of how Lucy the artist turns to her mother’s scientific work to help her cope with the double loss—and learns to appreciate science in a way she didn’t think possible.

The story is hard to handle in some ways, because of the death and loss that permeates it, but it is extremely well-written, and the narration was likewise excellent. I was slightly bothered by an inability to peg the period of the story—it felt a little historical, if only because no one seemed to have cell phones, and a few other minor points. But as far as I could tell there were no direct indicators, though in an audio book it is always possible to miss things.

My Recommendation:
A really engaging read, for kids old enough to cope with the realities of death. Also for anyone interested in marine biology.

Full Disclosure: I checked The Line Tender out of my library, and received nothing from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Writer’s Wednesday: Follow the link!

I’m doing a guest post this week at the IWSG Anthology blog, talking about the inspiration behind my story, “A World of Trouble,” which is appearing in Voyagers: The Third Ghost. Our collection of fantastic historical/fantasy middle grade stories with a theme of voyaging is available for pre-orders now!

I do apologize that I will not be able to respond to comments until March 20, as I shall be at sea.

The release date for VOYAGERS: The Third Ghost 
is May 5, 2020,
but purchase links are available,
and you can preorder a copy now.

Print 9781939844729 $13.95
EBook 9781939844736 $4.99
Juvenile Fiction - Historical / Action & Adventure / Fantasy & Magic
Dancing Lemur Press/Freedom Fox Press

Amazon - Print

Barnes & Noble -

ITunes -

Kobo -