Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Difference a Year Makes

Just over a year ago the Coffee Queen and I put our Saint Paul, MN house on the market.  We had an offer a week later.  Less than two months after that we left Minnesota and headed south.

Sold! Farewell, Minnesota!

A few weeks ago we moved into our new house in Atlantic Beach, FL.  We hadn't planned on buying a house here so soon, but when we saw this cute little house (just renovated) on Zillow we thought, "Hey, what not take a look?"  I have now learned there is no such thing as "just looking" at houses.  We bought the house.  The first (and only) house we looked at.  We're still unpacking and settling in, but we're loving this house.  (And we have real water pressure in the showers.  Never underestimate the importance of good water pressure.)

New house! (Someone's a little excited)

I still can't quite believe that in less than a year we sold a house, moved cross country, and now are living a mile and a half from the beach.  The Coffee Queen has settled into her job (which she loves), and the Little Scoot thrived at his preschool this past year and is super excited for kindergarten (sorry, Saint Paul, we've better schools here, too).

Which all goes to show, don't stay where you are, don't not make a change just because you can't see where the road will take you.  Selling our Saint Paul house was hard after so many great years there, but by letting go of it we've found something new that's great, too (did I mention it's a mile and a half from the beach?).  And that's what I'm learning from this adventure: to let go of the safe and familiar in order to embrace something new.  Scary?  Yes.  Worth it?  Yes.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I hear the ocean calling my name.

This is why we moved here

Saturday, March 7, 2015

I Rode a Scooter Around a Volcano

Last week I traveled to Costa Rica as part of a team from Beach Church here in Jacksonville.  We worked with Pura Vida Missions and Faithful Servant Missions on a variety of construction projects (repairing roofs, laying a foundation for a church, building bunk beds).  At the end of the week we had a free day in La Fortuna, near the Arenal volcano.  After the requisite zip lining, I was intrigued by a sign I saw while eating lunch.

"Scooters for rent"

Well now, that has potential, doesn't it?  After lunch, I checked it out.  Six or seven hours on a Honda Elite was just $35.  Done.  After stopping by the hotel to put on long sleeves/long pants (the lack of my usual gear did make me feel more than a little exposed), I headed west to the volcano.

My ride for the day

The road meanders towards and around the volcano with plenty of fun curves, although I did have to dodge a lot of bicycles due to a big race taking place on the same road.  While I didn't go hiking near the volcano (not when it was such a beautiful afternoon to ride), I did stop by the observation point which had perfect views of the volcano and lake.

Arenal volcano

I kept going on the same road for a while longer, over the dam and along the lake, until I hit a road that was all loose rock.  That seemed like a good point to turn around and head back the way I came.  Back in La Fortuna, I headed over to the La Fortuna waterfall where the road turns into dirt. Then back into pavement.  Then back into dirt.  Then back into pavement.  Then back into...

Anyway, it's a steep hike downhill for a closeup view of the waterfall but well worth it.  You can go swimming in the pool at the base (unfortunately I didn't have my swimsuit with me).

La Fortuna waterfall

To round out the afternoon, I then took the road east out of La Fortuna for a ways, just to see what was there.  Then I turned around.

It doesn't get better than this!
Riding in Costa Rica towards a volcano with the sun dipping behind it, does it get any better?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Good news

The other day I had an email from Caren, one of my fellow Muskrats from when I was in Jane's workshop.  For years now she has been working on a non-fiction book about a woman who was a child in Nagasaki when the atomic bomb was dropped.  It is a story that will both break your heart and give you hope that good can be made out of even the worst of tragedies.  For several years I listened to this story, and the story behind the story as its pursuit led Caren down some unexpected paths.

Last month Caren's book was sold to a publisher, to be published in 2016.  I wish I'd been there at Jane's when she was able to share the news, and I can't wait to see it in print.

Many times after Caren read a chapter at Jane's and we discussed it, it came my turn to read.  And more than once I wondered what on earth I was doing.  Compared to a story about a woman who endured one of the most horrific events imaginable, what can a rabbit in a cape offer?  Last fall at the StoryMasters workshop I had a similar moment of crisis.  Caren brought me back to earth.  As we talked about our stories during a break, she reminded me "Carrot is important too."  Critiquing on the fly is not my strength.  I usually need to sit and think about a piece for a while first.  But I hope I've offered Caren at least a fraction of the encouragement she has given me.

A book in print.  How many people who don't write understand the countless hours, the years of toil that go into a book without we the authors knowing if that moment will ever come?  Congratulations, Caren.  If ever a book, if ever an author, deserved this, it is you.  I can't wait to read it in print.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Jacksonville in Pictures

Jacksonville Beach

Beach by bicycle

Some more beach time

The view from our patio.  Palm tree included.

San Marco square

Jacksonville skyline, note the dolphin swimming by

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Settling in

Last week we officially moved into our townhouse in Atlantic Beach!  The day after Labor Day the moving trailer arrived and movers came to unload it all.  Aside from the fact we have WAY too much stuff (and we gave away so much before we left!), it's nice to have our things back.  It was like Christmas for the Little Scoot - all his toys, books, and stuffed animals were finally back!

Moving in: How do we STILL have so much stuff???

So we've spent the last week and a half unpacking, as well as taking care of little details like driver's licenses.  And seeing this morning that Saint Paul woke up to temperatures in the 40s, I have to say, I'm not regretting this relocation.

I leave you with a few photos of our new home:

Fishing pier at Jacksonville Beach
Chasing seagulls on Neptune Beach
And this is what it's all about: sea, sand, sun, and scooters.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

We Have a Home!

Just a quick update to say that we have found a place to rent in the Jacksonville area.  It's a townhouse in Atlantic Beach within a few miles of the beach.  We're very excited to move in on the 1st and get settled!
The Coffee Queen and the Little Scoot outside our new front door

Saturday, August 16, 2014


Yesterday my book was rejected.  Earlier this year I sent The Mighty Carrot off to the first round of agents.  Once responded right away and asked to see the entire manuscript, along with a couple of my picture book texts.  And then I waited, and waited, until yesterday I finally had a reply.  It wasn't what I had hoped for.

It was a no.  Or rather, more accurately, it was a "not for me."  As a writer, rejection is part of the game.  I've learned that to a certain extent this is a numbers game.  To get that one yes sometimes takes hearing no a hundred times.  There are rejections, sometimes, that make you wonder what on earth you're doing, why you're fighting this uphill battle in the first place, why you put yourself in the position to be rejected over and over.

And then there are rejections like this one.  It was kind.  It was encouraging.  It said "you're a great writer" and ended with "I'd be happy to consider other work from you in the future."  In brief, this was a rejection that said keep going.

And so today I worked on Carrot again, looking for ways to sharpen it as I regroup for Querying Agents: Round 2.  There will be more rejections.  Probably a lot of them, actually.  I can't control that.  All I can control is making the story better and getting it out there.

It might sound strange, but I appreciate this rejection.  I appreciated the time and thought that went into the decision, and the honesty to say it's not for me, but someone else will feel differently.  In the end, I want an agent that falls in love with Carrot as I have.  And so, I keep going.