Saturday, March 22, 2014

Dolphin Dives and a Lopsided Somersault


‘We are water people,’ my brother explained to the anxious lifeguard cautioning us about undertow as we splashed in the edge of the surf of the Andaman Sea. I had no idea what he meant. I lingered on the we-ness. My brother was always at least a step ahead of me.

Water: Quixotic. Defining its own boundaries. Fast-running water in the I ching means both danger and opportunity. Fall Creek was our playground as kids and it provided both opportunity and danger. The pond where we skated as kids back when winters were cold enough for skating outside. The pool in the backyard, filled-in limestone quarries and the gravel pits pock marking Indiana. Finally growing into the abyss off the reef protecting the northern edge of Grand Cayman. Water was never far from our best selves.

I am at a conference of writers. I should be at a workshop or networking or something earnest. Instead I am in the pool. Blissfully nearly empty. I swim a bit and think a bit and for no particular reason do the rapid fire up and down simulating dolphins to get from one side of the pool to the other. I might have walked, or done a lady like breast stroke. My brother made me do it. We used to practice those rapid up and down moves in our own small pool or the pool at the house in Cayman. I put myself safely in the middle of the pool and did a somersault—lopsided and more demanding on my lungs than it used to be—but a somersault nonetheless. My brother did it in scuba gear along the wall in view of the anemones and the purple vase sponges. It is harder to do than you might imagine. It was some time before I tried it, but I had to try. My brother made me do it.

If he were here now, I’d tell him I understand what he meant. He would be unimpressed that I got it at last. For him it was so obvious that he could not imagine that I would not have understood, but he wouldn’t have minded either. He liked being one step ahead of me—it was his birthright.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Caithness Writers web site up and running!

Thanks to our hard working (and techno savvy) secretary, the Caithness Writers web site is up and running.

www.caithnesswriters.org

If you are local, check out our program there and join us.

Also, use the link to buy our ebook (It is a bargain, really).

Also be sure to check form time to time for news such as connections with Scottish Book Trust and online competitions.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Back to St. Magnus Cathedral

The first time I crossed the Pentland Firth I was with my brother and sister in law. In fact, the only reason I am in Scotland now is because they invited me to come on their trip with them.  So many things about who and what and where I am are the result of their individual and combined example. Mike is gone now, and we are all struggling each of us in our own way to come to grips with that. St. Magnus Cathedral is part of that for me.

It is about a thousand years old. It was built as a penance supposedly for some of the internecine bloodshed that fills much of Caithness-Orkney medieval history. I like staring at the massive sandstone columns and thinking that dozens of stone masons spent their entire working lives on this single building and reading the walls and listening to the secrets of the millions of people who have been here with broken hearts, newborn babies, all the big and little moments of our lives echoing off the stones.

I am grateful that I push open the heavy wooden door into an emptiness. Today I do not want to share this cathedral and my time here with anyone else. I do not want to pass the time of day with a stranger or even a well-meaning guide. I punctuate the silence with my sturdy walking shoes on the outer aisles and linger over the ancient stones. I like the phrase from some century long ago--'beloved in life, regretted in death.'  Then I sit awhile in the dappled, multicoloured light from a stained glass window. Another time I might have liked to study them. Today is about listening, finding stillness within myself that will allow the healing.

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Long Goodbye is Over

As soon as I learned that my brother was in the last stages of his Alzheimer's, I was distracted, angry, sad, keen to do something if only I knew what.  For a week I ached and cried at the oddest times over the oddest things and tried to behave like a grown up--never my strong suit--and walked a bit like someone who had been too long at sea because I thought I had lost an essential mooring.

But it was Alzheimer's that lost. It ravaged my brother like a demon sucking him nearly dry, but when he tumbled over the edge into that world we cannot see, he took Alzheimer's with him.  Now my brother is free, and I have him back.

I do understand the physics of the northern lights, but one of the many gifts from my brother to me is the certainty that there is always a plurality in ways of looking at things. Last night the northern lights were dancing on the horizon. I stood on the crest of the hill just outside and looked into a sky that clearly welcomed my brother into its midst. Heartsease.

Today I hung tea towels on the line and watched them dancing like prayer flags in the wind. I suspect it was that complexity of thought that made Alzheimer's so jealous that it had to silence my brother, but everyone who knew him will carry it on. We can't all be stopped.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking for a Good Read?

Independence by Kate Kasserman has been out for awhile, but I don't think I ever wrote about it here on my blog. It began as a screenplay, which Kate then thought worked better as a novel. The fast pacing and visual qualities from its screenplay origins do make a good novel. A fast read with accurate history worked deftly into the story.

Bankers, and Bigger Monsters (yes, that comma is in the right place) by Georgia Gunn is a fascinating look at greed. Set in the southern part of the USA, this modern fable offers an accurate and chilling account of contemporary greed. Excellent reading but, if, like me, you are squeamish about horror and violence, fasten your seat belt before you read.  This is first novella by Georgia Gunn, but as an experienced author in other genres, she handles this mixed fantasy horror satire genre so adroitly that I could not put it down.

Georgia Gunn's second novella is a work of fan fiction--the grown up way of making up more stories after you have finished a book that you liked. Silo: Ink is a good read--no violence, but suspense and you don't need to have read Silo to follow the story. Silo:Ink held my interest but would also be interesting to young readers--readers in that nebulous age of grown up reading skills and younger interests. The heroine in Silo: Ink, like all the main characters in the works of both Kate Kasserman and Georgia Gunn are stong, independent women.  Although I don't actively seek out books with strong female characters, nonetheless it enhances the pleasure of a good story for me when they are as diverse and well drawn as the leads in these three stories.

And waiting in the wings, a novella I had the good fortune to read in draft, Serve in Hell.

While I'm making recommendations for some of my favourite reads (all the above are available from Amazon), let me recommend a web site of book reviews by authors, including some by myself as guest editor and Kate Kasserman. The book reviews are good reads in their own right and also offer good choices for reading or re-reading. www.booksquawk.com

I tried to make links to all those titles but my technoskills shrank when I had more than one choice for links, so please go out to amazon.com or amazon.co.uk and have a look for these.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Marketing and Novel(s)

My daughter and I have declared this year the year of marketing and novels.  She has this tendency to write and not let people know; I have a tendency not to write and let people know, hence the good intentions for this year.

First, marketing.

I have been busy writing albeit not here in my blog.  If you'd like to read my fortnightly columns in the local paper (Caithness Courier), go here http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk

and search on Sharon Pottinger. My husband also writes for the paper.

With the help of my wonderful writer's group--Caithness Writers, I managed to become published with 2 short stories in our anthology, available as an ebook from Amazon.  Even if you don't like crime fiction, I think you can find a story or two in here to enjoy--and if you have been to Caithness, you'll love the references only insiders will understand fully.

Secondly, the novel. I'm working on it. Honest.

Tomorrow I'll tell you about my daughter's novel and her 2 novellas (a third is in the wings)--see what I mean about more productive!




 



Anthology of Caithness Crime Stories
 


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Rainbow Walking

Sorry about the raindrops on the image, but my camera and I were standing in the rain trying to catch the rainbow that arched completely over the roadway. Cameras apparently don't understand rainbows. The rainbow with all its ROYGBIV in full technicolour shimmered patiently waiting for me.  A shadow bow started tagging along like a kid brother. I took that shimmery shiny arc in the sky as my reward for finally dragging myself out the door and trundled on up the hill. Snapping shots here and there.

Too many thoughts had been cluttering my brain and somehow walking gets them settled down. Now I have to get to work on some of those too-many ideas.