TRAVELING ON

 

I got out of Dodge very quickly after the HNS conference and headed toward the Huachucas and Cochise County, AZ, one of my favorite places in this marvelous country. Temperatures quickly climbed as I left  fog-cooled coastal San Diego. I’ve spent time here before and enjoyed the sights, friends and culture of this sparkling village. This time, I had more urgent business calling me east.

 The farther I went, the hotter it got. My first destination was Yuma, home of the Arizona Territorial Prison. After two weeks of intense palaver with friends, most of whom write, and strangers of the same ilk, I entered into a period of virtual isolation. Well, not “virtual” for I Skyped with my son and granddaughter regularly, as in “When are you coming home, Grandma?” followed by either giggles or tears. Calls to others and from my dirt-digging daughter (the archaeologist) broke my silences as I tried to figure out if I could go to the Huachucas. Reason prevailed, helped by heat edging toward 115 degrees and  the Monument Fire in the Huachucas that started after I left home. Well, so a fire broke out near Yuma, crossing both state lines AND the Colorado River on my second night. I soon turned north and west to seek out the welcome chill of the Pacific where a sweater is a summer must-have.

 I’m writing to the music of Enya on Pandora Radio.  I hope you enjoy my fragments.

            YUMA                                                      READING JEFFERS

Blistering heat beats down                       His poetry sings of the land

To meet fire’s great flames                       Finding the graveyard of

In pungent gusts of                                       Deer bones old and newer  

Severe black smoke,                                      He brings us into the

Skyscraper high.                                              Scene and the life now gone

                                                                                 His words create images of emotion.

Ash flittered about

Raining all around                                        MONTEREY BAY

A small maelstrom                                   Storm clouds gather

Imitating its elders.                                   to the North and West

                                                                            Sun huddles in

Homes evaporate at                                   cumulus blanket

Monument and Wallow                             While kayakers stream      

Hero firefighters  sleep                                around and through

Wherever they can flop,                              Kelp beds brown as

Dreamless, to revive.                                    burnt toast on a gray table.

                                                                                              The otter rests.

Trees succumb

Shaving mountains and desert

Shear to the stony base,

Rage devours all.

I cannot go farther………..

Conferencing and This Writer

What did the ancient poet say to the historical novelist?

 “Fancy meeting you here!”

 

            I have written about the importance of writer conferences in my life and that of others, here and elsewhere (Redwood Writers June  newsletter.) Today, I am just barely off the boat from the seaside San Diego fourth bi-annual conference of the Historical Novel Society in the United States. The Society began in Great Britain some fourteen years ago and has spread its wings to varied parts of the world as historical novels have flourished. This was my third conference, having missed the 2007 in Albany, NY.  Like Topsy, the sessions have grown in number and relevance.

Invariably, HNS attracts the likes of Susan Vreeland, Diane Gabaldon, Cecilia Holland, and Harry Turtledove. With sessions devoted to a multitude of topics, some may be thought to favor male writers (who attended hugely!) but were found to be attractive to both sexes: World War II and Naval History. Sessions included: Historical Fiction Goes Digital with Women Writing the West’s Michelle Black, Ann Parker(also of WWW) and others spoke of Keeping a Series Fresh, and Persia Woolley (of WWW and Redwood Writers) spoke of Second Harvest: New Life for Your Earlier Works…a smattering of the 25 meetings available to 300 participants in thee days.

Famously published, debut writers, the “pre-published” met, dined and socialized with agents and editors looking for new clients. Then, there were the Friday Night Fight Scenes readings after the dinner and Turtledove’s keynote. Saturday evening’s comments by Cecilia Holland with gorgeous display of period costumes from ancient Rome to 19th century Americana found me ” too tired, dear,” to stay for the Saturday Night Sex Scene Readings.

What purpose did the conference serve me?  Persia as a charming friend and roommate; meeting the incoming president of WWW, Pam Tartaglio; chats with Ann Parker, Brigitte Goldstein,  and new acquaintances; immersion in the gifts and energy of other writers; free books(10?) and those I purchased.

I also gained the interest in my work by one agent and two editors. Not a bad ratio out of three pitches, hmm?

Readers: sorry I haven’t mastered the use of photos or this page wouldn’t be so gray. I will keep writing until I build that skill.   Next up: travel tales and book reviews. Watch out world, Arlettawrites is back!