Thursday, February 28, 2013

Galileo's Moons

If I could sail a thousand miles;
Just to be with you.
I’d navigate to the stars above,
and Galileo’s moons.
Polaris and the Southern Cross,
Are stretched so far and wide.
They light my path and give me hope;
I’ll have you by my side.

When seas are calm I hoist my sails;
And bid a fond farewell.
Then soon enough the skies grow dark,
As seas begin to swell.
It matters not how long it takes,
The danger or the gloom.
For on starry nights your face appears
In Galileo’s moons.

I’ve sailed so long; I’ve sailed so far;
The days turned into years.
In all that time I’ve kept my faith;
And pushed aside my fears.
My compass is my aide-de-camp;
My mast and rudder too.
And when it’s dark I search the skies,
For Galileo’s moons.

When I was young I hatched a plan
The dream I tried to hide.
But life took hold and swept me up
And took away my pride.
And here I stand alone and old;
My heart still young and true.
If I reach your shores its thanks alone
To Galileo’s moons.

I wrote this poem back in 2011 after I'd read a beautiful book called "Galileo's Daughter" by Dava Sobel, one of my favorite non-fiction authors. Inspiration can come from almost any source!

Update 2017: 2 new poems!

I soar on wings of silver light;
And bathe in clouds of purest white;
This silent floating capsule glows;
From golden rays the sun bestows;
Through temperate to tropic zones,
O’er earth’s majestic fields I roam;
Then all at once an isle appears—
A bastion of the Caribbees!
Where Columbus and his mariners sailed,
The Spanish, French and Dutch prevailed.
With their galleons and gold doubloons,
Forgotten cays, sailors marooned;
Changing the course of history—
All shrouded in its mystery;
From cannon’s boom to cyclone’s roar--
Desperate sailors washed ashore;
From Cuba down to Port of Spain,
The kingdom of the sugar cane!
Where slaves and Caribs toiled in vain,
And blood was spilled and fortunes gained;
What secrets lie beneath the waves,
In these lands of sugar, rum and slaves?

(Written in April 2016 while flying down to Miami)

I was walking in a park down in the Caribbees;
And there I spied an ancient bust beneath the lignum vitae trees,
A king of noble countenance,
With eyes both brave and true,
Our meeting was not happenstance,
As I will relate to you.

‘Twas many years ago they say when Denmark ruled these lands,
The sugar mill and fields of cane and beaches of white sand,
When Dannebrog at last came down,
The people wept and cried,
Forsaken by both king and crown,
No longer Denmark’s pride.
From the ashes of the Schleswig War arose a king anointed,
The House of Gl├╝cksburg’s proud defender, to Denmark’s throne appointed,
Two Duchies lost through toil and strife,
So many young lives taken!
For Dannebrog they paid the price,
Let not their memories be forsaken!
King Christian has bequeathed his bust so all may come and see,
This noble, proud and handsome man, a friend to all indeed,
“Fear not the hurricane,” says he.
“Nor plague nor scourge nor war,”
“For as long as I remain here,”
“Peace will reign and guard these shores!”
(Written August 2017)

Announcing Giveaway for Spy Island

Visit my friend Larissa's review blog, The Howling Turtle, for a special March giveaway for Spy Island:

And please let me know by commenting how you like the cover.

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Glimpse at Some Locations in Spy Island

This post is for readers who are interested in seeing what some of the locations in the novel look like. Since the 1917 transfer of the Danish West Indies to the US, the islands have not changed significantly in appearance, so these pictures give a good idea of life looked like back during colonial days. I took these pictures during my "location scouting" trip in August 2007, when the average temperature was a sweltering 95°F and most of the islanders were hiding out on the beach.

This is the pavilion in Emancipation Park where the pivotal assassination scene takes place. This park is only a short distance from Fort Christian, which was undergoing renovations during my visit and was gated off to the public. I daresay I look pretty confident for a person about to embark on a major, life-changing event, although I wasn't aware of it at the time!

These scary-looking cannons line the driveway of Bluebeard's castle. I suppose at one time or another they were fired at marauding pirate ships and privateers, but in these less-dramatic times, the harbor is mostly bombarded with cruise ships and rich yachts filled with eager tourists.

The Barracks that once held the Danish Gendarmes now houses the V.I. Legislature. Gone are the blue-suited soldiers with shiny swords and revolvers. They've been replaced with the symbol of our generation: over-worked, harried bureaucrats armed with cellphones and Ipads. My how times have changed!

This house on Synagogue Hill was my inspiration for Abby's house. It has a large, sweeping veranda, a beautiful, panoramic view of the harbor, and lots of mysterious doors leading to secret locations.
The Famous Market Square and behind it, the former National Bank of the Danish West Indies, the site of some tense scenes with the mad Voodoo Queen-bamboula dancer, Queen Coziah, whose real-life identity remains a mystery even to this day.
A bedroom in the Haagensen House Museum (a restored Danish house from colonial days) provided tremendous inspiration for Abby's room with its West Indian mahogany furniture, four-posted bed, vanity table, old pictures, and large, jalousied windows.
The Grand Hotel has not been a working hotel in 40 years, but it stands as a reminder of what life was like back in Danish Times, quieter, simpler, less congested. Exactly the kind of life many of us would love to return to!

A Creole kitchen from the 19th Century. You can imagine all the arguing and bickering that must have gone on in this kitchen over the proper way to make kallaloo!
I hope you enjoyed this little tour. If you should ever find yourself in the town of Charlotte Amalie, keep an eye out for Queen Coziah; she's been known to make sudden appearances from time to time:)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

What writers can learn from "Slumdog Millionaire"

As a writer, I envy people who work in teams. Working as a member of a team is empowering. By collaborating with others, the individual worker becomes a part of something greater, and when they succeed, their success is shared collaboratively. A writer's success, if he ever experiences any, is one-sided and can never be shared, making it somewhat hollow. 

The team naturally benefits from synergy, the combined efforts that every member brings to the table, causing the team to become greater than the sum of its individual members. But most writers don't have the option of working as a team. The work of a writer is lonely, frustrating, and many times isolating. By definition, writers work as an individual in a world he has created of his own imagination. There are many days when the writer can't rely on his sense of humor, because it's non-existent. There are days he can't rely on his strength, because it has ebbed. There will be days when he can't rely on his natural optimism because it has run out.

On days when my positive thinking and physical strength have evaporated, when I have lost my self-confidence and when the spark of inspiration has dried up, I watch an inspiring video that never fails to move me. On YouTube, there is a video that captures the moment when "Slumdog Millionaire" wins Oscar for Best Picture. Each time I watch that video, I cry. The camaraderie, the teamwork, the collaborative effort between the writers, the producers, the director, the actors, the technicians—each one of the hundreds of people who worked on the movie—is right there on that stage. Their mutual effort has paid off stunningly by garnering them the industry's highest prize and honors.
My happiness for them overwhelms me because when the underdog wins, all of us win. When "Slumdog Millionaire" won the Oscar, they were the odd man out, the underdog, but they broke new ground in film making at a time when nobody believed in them and nobody wanted to give them a chance. Each and every day of his  working life, a writer must do the same. When he sits down at his computer and types, the writer has to believe he is breaking new ground. He must write with the idea that he is creating something new, worthwhile, and monumental.

In the words of "Slumdog Millionaire's Producer, Christian Colson, "If you have passion and belief, truly anything is possible." Dear fellow writers, heed the words of Christian Colson. Believe in yourself and keep your passion for writing alive. But above all, keep writing. Sometimes the strongest team is a team of one.

Watch the video here:

Please leave me a comment. I would love to know what you think!

Monday, February 11, 2013

New Cover Reveal for Spy Island

I am pleased to present the new cover for Spy Island. Does the girl look like she's hiding a dangerous secret in her basement? Does she look capable of bringing down an entire nest of German spies? Read Spy Island to learn the answers to these questions!

Also, check out this awesome review by Jenn Ritter of Jennation Book Reviews:

Let me know what you think!!