Jennifer's Journal


Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Jennifer Blake Newsletter, July 2010

Greetings and Happy Fourth to all!

Ever had a brainstorm in a blueberry patch? I did, a day or two ago—or at least I had a sudden idea that fit perfectly into the book proposal I was writing. Rote activities, such as picking blueberries, bathing or knitting, engage the practical left brain while leaving the creative right brain free to wander down paths of inspiration. Either that or a writer's subconscious mind is always puttering away at whatever story is in progress, and decides to present its findings at odd times. And yes, the blueberries were in my own yard. There's nothing quite like going out and picking your own ripe berries for breakfast. Add half & half with a sprinkle of Splenda, and yum!

The book proposal is done, and went off to my editor by email attachment this morning. Thanks so the marvels of technology, it actually arrived on its due date of July 1. This synopsis is for Book 3 in my 2011 medieval trilogy about the accursed Three Graces of Graydon. The working title is SEDUCED BY GRACE, though I may turn it around and make it BY GRACE SEDUCED. That's very like the title for Book 2, however, BY GRACE POSSESSED, so maybe not. Titles can be a challenge: they must be provocative, memorable, short and "catchy." They should also reflect the story, though I sometimes think the people who slap them on books forget that last bit. Mira, my current publisher, has been very good at leaving my original titles alone. Good thing or bad? Who knows?

Hurricane Alex swirled ashore on the Mexican and South Texas coasts last night. The rain bands from it extend as far as our area, and thank goodness for it as we've been unnaturally hot and dry this past month. We had showers last night and it's cool and cloudy today with the promise of more. Though I sympathize with those who are struggling with high winds and floods, I really wouldn't mind if it rained for days.

As I write, I've almost recovered from jet lag. I was away in Europe for a chunk of time in June, only returned a few days ago. This was a cruise with my two daughters and their (combined) six children for a total of nine of us. What fun we had, rambling around Santorini and Rhodes, Mykonos and Venice, eating at great little restaurants, sampling the gelato (ice cream) in every port. Photos from this trip are posted on Facebook, if you’re curious at all. Look for them on my "Patricia Maxwell" page, however, since they are more about family than writing.

The trip started with something of an adventure. My grandson Corey Faucheux, 21, and I were separated from other family members at the airport, bumped from our initial flight to Atlanta due to an airline SNAFU. As a result, we missed our connecting flight to Venice. We were rerouted through Paris, but the gate agent who made this arrangement failed to allow time for French passport control. We had less than half an hour from the time we got off the plane till our Venice flight left, so also missed this one and had to be rerouted again. By the time we finally arrived in Venice, our ship had sailed. So we then took a taxi to the train station and caught a night train to Bari, Italy, the next port of call. Next morning, we taxied to the ship terminal where we watched the Costa Fortuna come into port. We were finally reunited with the rest of the family a grueling 46 hours after we were parted from them.

But because we were not on the first flight to Atlanta, our luggage was supposed to be taken off there and rerouted with us on our later connections. Only it wasn't. The gate agent who checked in our bags neglected to match the correct luggage identification strips to the correct suitcases. The airline took off the bags with mine and Corey’s ID strips, but they actually belonged to two of the other grandchildren. Because the personal name tags on these suitcases did not match anyone on the passenger list for the later flight, they stayed behind in Atlanta. Meanwhile, our incorrectly tagged bags had gone on with the original flight. When Corey and I reached Venice, our luggage was nowhere to be seen. It had already been picked up by his mom that morning, though we had no way of knowing that since our cell phones wouldn’t work in Europe and we’d left them behind. My daughter and I, at different times during this same long day, stood in different Lost Luggage lines for different airlines while trying to straighten out this mess. The missing bags finally appeared a few days into the cruise, but not before vacation time was wasted shopping for replacement clothing. The whole thing was a hassle which caused our family group to miss touring Venice before the ship sailed (though we stayed an extra day afterward), and also deprived me and Corey of an additional day of our cruise. Have I filed a complaint? You bet!

But now, I’m traveling again. I’ll be heading out soon with ten Magnolia Stitchers friends for a quilting retreat in the mountains of Colorado. We'll rest and relax, go whitewater rafting, hiking and picnicking, visit quilt shows and quilt museums. Who knows, we might even sew a little! I'm looking forward to the down time, but yes, I'm still taking the laptop. Just in case I have a brainstorm while stitching, you know….

With warmest wishes for hassle-free fun and relaxation in your summer,



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