Thursday, January 26, 2012

Iguanas Are People, Too

Ever wonder what morning is like for an iguana? I hadn't either, until this guy (or gal?) popped up for a visit one morning. It's not so different from us humans.

video


(FYI: I an currently in Costa Rica hiding from the Iowa winter. 
I am (ostensibly) working on my new novel, A Reasonable Price,
 but this place does provide some unique distractions.)

P.S. While you watch this video, please sing "Here Comes The Sun," by the Beatles. Apparently the SEC, or the FAA, or the FBI, or some other nit-picky agency won't let me upload the video if I add that as my background music. Yeah... like I'm going to make money from this? Martin Scorsese I am not.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Names Have Been Changed

Costa Rica, Year 3, Day 1: It's like we never left, only more so. 

I've been reading The Best American Travel Stories 2011, edited by one of my favorite authors, Sloane Crosley. In her introduction essay, she states that she never wants to go back to the same place twice because the world is so big and wonderful. I used to agree with her, and in many ways I still do. In a previous life (about 15 years ago, I suppose) I spent 10 days on the island of Mustique. Mystical, to be sure. Ah, Basil and his friends (rock stars, clothing designers, European royalty, entrepreneurs and trust fund babies), what's not to like? The beaches, the views, the restaurants—ok, there was only one restaurant, but it was fabulous... a lively lobster once scampered across the dining room floor trying to escape his devilishly hot fate—heaven on earth for us humans. And here is where Ms. Crosley's point is valid: my return trip the following year had none of the awe and fascination. I went back hoping to repeat the wonderment. Alas, it was, "Oh, yeah, I remember this beach."

But this spot in Costa Rica where we (my hubby and I) have found... We love it more each year. We've met people here, found the best places to eat and buy good meat (organic beef and pork from Nicaragua), my Spanish has greatly improved, and I am over the culture shock that overwhelmed me on my first visit. But I post this post as a marker, taking my emotional temperature, if you will, so I can compare how I feel about it at the end of our trip. 

Here's my Costa Rican recap:

First trip to CR: 1 Week in Tamarindo: Fabulous. Me, hubby, 4 sons. Great time, great food, great town, great house though it didn't have an ocean view.

Second trip to CR: 1 month near Coco Beach: Not so fabulous. Hubby and I land after dark; by the time we got our rental car and found our house, I was depleted of all positive emotions. An afternoon wildfire had scorched the hilltop just below our house, but our host insisted they'd hosed everything down so we'd be fine. The house was in disrepair, though the ants and geckos didn't seem to mind. The tarantulas loved our pool, but they can't swim so it wasn't that scary to scoop them out in the mornings. But by Week 3, when 5 (grown) kids arrived, I had adjusted and relearned to sleep at night out of pure exhaustion from all the local adventures we mastered. This is how I felt about it at the time!

Then we moved to another house for 1 month: Ah, much better. Clean, airtight, no bugs inside. Wonderful. Enjoyment! A writer's dream. Lovely. Until our final night here. That night, sound asleep, pure bliss, and then BANG! Ouch! OMFingG! My husband was stung by a scorpion who had crawled into our bed! After we killed it, we wondered if it had a nest of friends nearby...

Year 2: Back to the Scorpion house. (yes, I agreed to this... hey, it wasn't me who got stung!). (We did have 10 scorpions in the house during our stay, but no stings. They were mostly dead due to perimeter fumigation by the time they snuck into middle of the rooms.) This year, no kids, no adventures, only peace, quiet, calm, happiness, and writing: 45,000 words on my "third" novel, The King of Liars. I also did a lot of blogging about our time here. Some of it's worth reading. Most of the last 20 or so entries relay our adventures. (Note: This link is to my "old" blog via Apple. I have since moved my blog to where you are reading now.)

Year 3: Now here I sit, in the Scorpion house again, in my "writing studio over looking the Pacific Ocean." I wonder what lies ahead for us over the next 11 weeks. We'll have most of our kids visiting for parts of 3 separate weeks. With any luck, our children will outnumber the scorpions, although that still leaves room for too many scorpions! This year, I'm working on a new novel—my "breakout" novel? Yes, this is the one!—A Reasonable Price. I'm at 35,000 words now (125 pages), but no telling how many of those I'll scrap in the next 11 weeks. My current friends—I mean, characters—have different names from last year, but my intensity persists.

So, friends, I hope to entertain and inform you in the coming months. I'd love questions or comments from you along the way so don't be shy. Take care and I'll write more soon! Hasta luega!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Review: The Innocent by Taylor Stevens

Taylor Stevens is a master-storyteller. She deftly feeds the reader facts and clues and backstory as the characters race through the incredible city of Buenos Aires to save a little girl from a terrible life. The pace is rapid, and the plot of The Innocent is as straight as a bullet through this gripping novel.

(Vanessa) Michael Munroe, the literary world's newest superhero, infiltrates a cult as few people could describe as accurately as Stevens (if you haven't read the author's bio, do that here). This story is as horrific as it is exciting, and while I imagine some there has been some dramatic license taken, it is very believable knowing how Stevens was raised. 

But the best part of this book is that Stevens has created an anti-hero that we/I not only root for, but one that we care about. Yes, she kills people, but her subsequent nightmares create sympathy for her. "Michael" makes me feel smarter/stronger/faster. It's like the Holiday Inn commercial: I'm not a spy, but I have read Taylor Stevens' books. 

The Innocent is an excellent thriller, full of action, tension and mystery. 

I give it a strong 4 Stars.