Internet-Free Day

What a spectacular day! After a few weeks of oppressive weather, mid 70’s and low humidity was a welcomed respite. There was even autumn clinging to the breeze’s tips promising pumpkins, apples, and the change of seasons.

I adore days like this. It makes me think of sweaters and fires in the woodstove. So I thought, I need to seize today. My hubby was home, and the writing could wait.

We packed a lunch, put on our swimsuits and went to the state park. I haven’t been to Grafton State ParkGrafton in I don’t know how many years. It’s only 20 minutes from my house and as we drove in, I wondered why we haven’t visited this hidden jewel sooner.

There is a sandy beach for the sunbathers, walking trails, and even a boat launch where you could rent canoes and kayaks. There is little to no cell signal in the park and to tell you the truth, I didn’t even check. It was my husband that mentioned it. Why would someone want to check social media or emails when there was so much beauty surrounding them?

Everyone needs an internet-free day. Reaching out and connecting with nature is almost an ethereal experience. It recharges your soul and uplifts your spirit.

As we sliced the paddles through the water and glided the canoe across the 2 ½ mile lake, inner peace descended. Neither of us spoke as we watched a heron take flight.

After the internet-free day, I was ready to get back to work. The scent of the woods and the sound of twigs snapping under my step will stay with me. Let’s hope it doesn’t take years for me to go back. Maybe I need to buy a kayak.

What do you do when your character takes over?

As a writer, I sit down in front of my laptop and tap away. I usually have a clear idea where the story is going. Most of the time, the hardest thing I have to deal with is drinking my tea before it gets cold and keeping the cat off my keyboard.

But that was before Bobby. I’m writing my second book in the Pink Sneakers series, and I plotted for Princess Ally to be the heroine. It was in the back of my mind even as I wrote book 1, Pink SBobbyneakers in Space. But sometimes things don’t turn out as you plan.

Bobby the Blobarian tromps on the scene and takes over. He is an impish boy from Nebia IV who takes my words and rearranges them.  I have no say in the matter. Bobby is determined to meet the Earthling that defeated his dad in the video game, Cyber Ice and nothing will stop him from getting a pair of pink sneakers.

I’ve talked to some of my writer friends about this phenomenon and they laughed because it has happened to them too. Even with an outline, stories still have a way of running amuck and not turning out as planned. So what do you do? Absolutely nothing. One thing I’ve learned is you can’t stop your characters once they are set in motion. I never know where they’ll lead me. It’s what makes writing so exciting and addicting. Try it sometime. You’ll be surprised not every road leads down the expected path. Sometimes you end up in Oz.

An Interview with Marley

I pass through the white picket fence and take in the big backyard. The smell of freshly cut grass greets me as I walk across the lawn. Sun-kissed ripples glide across the pool. The jungle gym with the fort stands patiently. A tire suspended by a rope slowly swings back and forth from a thick oak limb.

The adventure started here. A once in a lifetime journey few can say they had experienced. Marley Perry had traveled into deep space after discovering a spaceship in her mom’s vegetable garden. The red-headed girl met danger at every turn and rescued the king and queen with the help of her new BFF.

There is a rustling of leaves above me. I look up and see a tiny figure with a mop of red corkscrew hair shimmying down the gnarly oak tree.

“Hi,” the voice drifts down from above.

I grin, not able to hide my amusement for the precocious firecracker. Marley jumps the last couple of feet and lands with a thud. She bends over and wipes the dust off her pink sneakers.

“Hi Marley,” I say, “I thought your parents told you to use the door when you want to go outside.”

Marley’s cheeks turn a lovely shade of pink and a fMarleyluster crosses her face. She gazes up at her second-floor bedroom window and her escape route, the gnarly oak tree. The corners of her mouth twitch up sheepishly. “I forgot.”

I dismiss Marley’s embarrassment and walk over to the patio. “I’d like to ask you a few questions. ‘Pink Sneakers in Space’ will be coming out in a couple of weeks, and I’m sure my readers would love to get to know you.”

“Okay.” Marley’s face brightens as she sits in a folding chair. A pitcher and glasses were on the table with a plate of cookies. “Mom made us snickerdoodles and lemonade.” The little girl leaned forward and poured two glasses.

“Thanks,” I say. “So, what’s your new friend’s name? What’s she like?”

“Ally,” Marley gushes, “and she’s a real princess. Ally is the best friend ever! I can tell her anything and she won’t tell anyone.”

“Every girl needs a BFF. But you’re not sad?  Your friend lives on Lovian, and you won’t see her again.”

“But I will see Ally again,” Marley says with excitement and bubbles, “She is coming to visit soon and going to spend the night.”

“Wow. I didn’t think your parents knew about your adventure.”

Marley cast her eyes downward, and she pushes a stray lock of red hair away.

“Marley, you didn’t tell your parents did you?”

“No. But I’m going to. I’m just waiting until I get married.”

My eyes narrow and I wonder maybe it would be best if Marley’s parents don’t know about her travels in space. But how will she hide her alien visitor, so I ask. “How are you going to explain Ally? Your parents will notice her brilliant blue hair.”

“I have a hat for Ally.”

I laugh. A hat for a disguise. I wonder how long it will take Marley’s parents to catch on. An airplane flies overhead. I look up and watch as the jet leaves a trail behind. I think about how brave Marley must have been to climb into the spaceship and fly to the outer reaches of the Milky Way and face danger with the Blobarians.

“Are the Blobarians as creepy as I hear?”

“Naw, not once you get use to them. I like iguanas and cats.”

“Iguanas and cats?”

“Yes, Blobarians are big and look like iguanas. They have long whiskers like my cat Boris too.”

What an odd combination, lizard people with whiskers. Interesting.

“Marley, is your homework done?” a voice drifts out the kitchen back door.

“Almost. I still have to do my spelling,” Marley answers her mom. “I have to go. Ally is supposed to be here soon. Why don’t I text you when she’s here and you could interview her too.”

“That would be great. Thanks.”

Marley gets up and gives me a hug. “See you soon,” Marley says.

I get up and take one last look at the vegetable garden as I leave. Someone had filled in the hole created by Princess Ally’s spaceship. The tomatoes on the vine were red and ready to be picked. What an adventure. I’m almost envious, though I doubt I would have had the courage to get in a spaceship and travel beyond the stars.