It’s Wednesday, it must be the beach.

unnamedMy husband and I have one car. This usually isn’t an issue since we work at the same place and have almost the same schedule. But on Wednesdays I work 10-7 and he works 8-5. Since our library is six blocks from the beach, I have started a tradition of beach and coffee on those mornings.

I drop him off at the library at 8 and then drive to a secret place where the beach is relatively uncrowded. I dress in shorts and a t-shirt and take my towel. Then I walk down the beach a little ways, kick off my shoes and go wade in the water for a few minutes. Then I return to my towel and meditate.

Mediation is something I have been working on for a while. It is the most simple thing in the world, and yet one of the hardest things to achieve. You don’t need anything to do it, just a quiet place and some uninterrupted time. I love the beach because it is naturally conducive to meditating. The waves are soothing, the sand is cool under my feet, and the breeze is usually refreshing.

Anyone who has ever meditated before knows that it is an ongoing practice. The more you do it, the easier it gets. Which is true to a point. I’ve been meditating pretty regularly for about a year now, and while I see an progress I know I still have an ocean’s breadth of improvement I could make.

Some days it is so sublime. I will sit, drop out of my head and sit in empty presence while the waves lull me into a state of peace. And some days (most days) it is a constant struggle with my head to get it to shut the hell up. I’ve always been an over thinker, a “monkey mind” and getting the brain train to slow down is sometimes nearly impossible.

But I show up every week and I try again. And I always feel better, calmer, more peaceful after I have meditated, whether I felt it was successful or not.

After meditating I pick up my towel and drive to The Brick, a coffee shop on the swanky Fifth Avenue of Naples, Florida. I get coffee, set up my computer, and write for an hour before I have to be at work.

Usually it is a good place to work. I can tune out most people chatting around me, but I can’t tune out TV. They do have two TVs in The Brick, but they are tuned to news stations and muted. Except for last Wednesday. Someone had put one TV on low volume but had it turned to the local Fox station. Did you know Jerry Springer is still on TV? Still doing the same damn shtick that got him started nearly thirty years ago? Well he is and I found it very hard to focus with all the screaming and fist fights.

Other than this last week’s anomaly I find it very easy to slip into my story and write. I usually find it hard to stop and pack up at the end of the hour. But I do, and its off to work I go. I love Wednesday mornings because they bring me peace and joy. It is “me time” and I savor each minute.

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

It is a weird week. Not a bad one, just different, schedule-wise. Kosta and I have taken tomorrow off to add to our already three-day weekend, so today is my Friday. But our usual Wednesday night person is on vacation so I am working the late shift to fill in for her. That’s why I got to go here this morning:

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Ah…

The beach in the morning is one of my favorite places in the world. It brings me back to myself when I’ve been living in my head too much. And I have lately, and here’s why:

My novel, Cloak and Dagger, isn’t selling. I’ve had lots of favorable feedback from different editors but no one has ultimately taken the bite. The thing I have heard most frequently is “I really love this book, but I couldn’t get it past my sales team because it is historical fiction.” Apparently while historical fiction is a huge thing in the adult market, it is a very tough sell in the YA world.

What I’ve been doing since December is taking out the first novel I wrote, The First Muse, and rewriting the beginning and editing the rest. I knew the first third had flaws and a tough time getting going, but I believe I fixed those issues. I am almost ready to send it off to my agent and see what he thinks about it. Trust me, I am terrified he won’t love it, but that’s just a little part of me. I know this book is good and the series has amazing potential.

It’s just hard, you know? Getting the agent was an incredibly grueling endeavor, but this part is no easier. The funny thing is, when you are searching for an agent, you get rejections. But when you ascend to the next level and your agent is sending your manuscript to editors, you get passes. Sounds a lot less awful, but really, it’s just as painful. Especially when the months drag by and you’re still waiting.

But I don’t give up. I will keep plugging away until I get a win. My agent loves my writing and at least one editor asked to see anything else I wrote. That is encouraging. If my contemporary fantasy about a kick ass group of girl goddesses doesn’t sell, I will dust myself off and write another book.

I expect to finish my final polish of The First Muse by Friday and then I’ll be sending it up to New York and crossing my fingers. I’m looking forward to some rest now that it will be with Alex. I’ve been working two full-time jobs really, and I’m exhausted. Even so, I know the work won’t be done, as I am sure he will have suggestions to make the story tighter. After all, I’m a talented writer, but not a flawless one.

Then it will go out into the world to be loved or rejected, and I won’t be able to do one thing about that.

Tom Petty said it best: The Waiting is the Hardest Part.

 

After the Storm

Last Sunday morning we had quite a storm rip through Naples, and there were reports of several tornadoes. My iPhone woke me at 5:15 am telling me there was a tornado warning and to take cover.

For those of you who don’t live in Florida this is extremely unusual. The only time we have tornadoes they are usually riding the tail of a hurricane. We always have plenty of warning for that. But we don’t have tornado sirens, we don’t have basements in which to shelter. To be honest, we were totally unprepared for it.

But thankfully nothing happened. The wind gusted up to 85 mph, a lot of trees and tree branches came down, but there was no building damage and no one was hurt. There were pockets of town right on the coast that were without power for over a day, but all in all, it wasn’t a disaster.

I got to go to the beach this morning and I took some interesting pictures of the effects the storm had on the beach.

A palm that fell across Gulfshore Blvd.

A palm that fell across Gulfshore Blvd.

A ficus branch that fell across the beach walk.

A Ficus branch that fell across the beach walk.

The boardwalk over the dune was probably torn up bu the storm surge. Unluckily, the storm came ashore at high tide.

The boardwalk over the dune was probably torn up bu the storm surge. Unluckily, the storm came ashore at high tide.

The sea grass has all been swept away, and look at that bank the sea cut into the sand.

The sea grass has all been swept away, and look at that bank the sea cut into the sand.

Quite a few of these Florida FIghting Conchs washed up on shore.

Quite a few of these Florida FIghting Conchs washed up on shore.

The problem was they were all still inhabited. So back into the water they went!

The problem was they were all still inhabited. So back into the water they went!

It may have been chilly this morning--just 49 degrees, but the air was exhilirating to me.

It may have been chilly this morning–just 49 degrees, but the air was exhilarating to me.

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Happy me at the beach! I wish I could come here every morning. There is something about this place that anchors me in place and keeps me from living in my head too much.  It is 100% the best thing about living in Florida.

 

 

 


 

Beachy

Naples beach

The most lovely thing about living in this part of the world is the beach. In Southwest Florida, the beaches are spectacular, and I wager they are nicer than any other beach in the country. The Gulf of Mexico is warm, calm, and stunning in its ability to change from tourmaline to turquoise to azure and back again. I go to the beach at least once a week, and specifically, every Tuesday morning. My husband and I share one car between us and on Tuesdays he has to be to work at 8 a.m., while I don’t have to be there until 10. So I drop him off and scuttle off like a hermit crab.

Shell Grouping2

Not only is my beach beautiful, it is one of the best shelling beaches in the country. These are shells I found myself–two lightning whelks and a calico scallop so vividly orange it seems to glow. Every time I visit the beach I see something new and wonderful, whether it’s a beautiful shell, dolphins swimming down the coast, or an osprey hunting for lunch. I am constantly awed by the beauty of this place and can’t tell you how much the sounds of the surf, the feeling of the sand in my toes and the salty tang of the breeze calms me, centers me, and returns me to earth. For someone who lives entirely too much in her own head, this is a gift.

2322230649_a9966cb4ae_bThe wildlife is incredible. My husband and I came across this baby octopus one afternoon at low tide.  There are tons of birds: pelicans, terns, sandpipers, plovers, seagulls, herons, egrets, and ibis abound up and down the shore. But we have also seen dolphins, stingrays, jellyfish, Portoguese man o’ wars, and even once a manatee. He was slowly moving his way north up the beach, a few yards out, quivering, whiskered nose breaking the surface.

2266415515_2f9fab9db8_bAnd of course, the sunsets are other-worldly. Living on the west coast of Florida, we get the spectacular light shows when the sun goes down. It is a very popular tourist thing to walk down to the beach to watch the sunset, but I laugh when everyone turns around and leaves the second the last smidge of it descends below the horizon. I’ve found the best part of the show comes after, and my husband and I are usually alone on the sand to see it.

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Yep, I love my beach. It has never failed to soothe me when I’m anxious, ground me when I’m untethered, or delight me with something new. Every Tuesday morning I dip my toes in the water, do a little meditating and look for shells.  It’s where I remember how to breathe. Inhale with me… two… three. And exhale, two… three.

Ahhh…

All right everyone. Back to work.