Tag Archives: beach

A Peek at the Beach

All pics taken today at The Hook in Capitola.

All pics taken today at The Hook in Capitola.

Before I started sewing, I went to the beach.  I have more photos of the Pacific from The Hook in Capitola than is good for me.  And again I’ve added to that collection, a few more snapped on a pleasant sunny California day.  I brought along a friend, who is nearing the end of her visit.  We’ve had a lovely week together, capped off by this excursion to the ocean.

As I strolled, peering down at the changing waves, I considered the alterations since I last trekked about this stretch.  It was New Year’s Eve 2013 or New Year’s Day 2014; so much has occurred since that rather brisk end of year/beginning of another as the sun rose, signaling another day, but so much beyond that.  Dad was alive, no sewing going on, The Hawk in its infancy.  No grandkids either might I add, and fifty loomed in the distance.  Now that’s on the cusp as well as nearly a year since my father died; how funny are all the parts that converge as time passes.

But the ocean keeps ebbing and flowing, one of my favourite parts of observing it.  It never stops regardless of what is happening in our lives.  And even better is how it never looks the same.  If all my Capitola photos were compared, no two would be exactly alike.  A wave’s height and breadth can’t be repeated; each visit to Capitola is as unique as every dip and curl of the water.

I try to keep that in mind as these changes seem daunting, or still so odd; can it be that my father has been dead almost an entire year?  Well, it had been over two years since I’d stepped onto the sand; time does not stop.  But my perception of time has been wrenched from how I used to consider days and weeks….  Over the last few months, the minutes and hours have blurred as if I live in two worlds, that of right where I sit and a far less corporeal existence more like the rolling of waves.  Dad’s gone, or is he?  Maybe he’s behind my shoulder as I type or was he at The Hook, walking by my side.  Eternity doesn’t seem so fantastical of an idea as it used to be.

Not that I feel ill, although I do note more aches than previously; I am an abuela, after all.  I’m also keenly aware of how beautiful is this life, how expansive like the Pacific.  These past forty-nine years are but a drop in the bucket, like all the pictures I’ve taken at The Hook, all the words written, quilts sewn.  A vast horizon awaits, draped in mystery and joy.  Sometimes it will look like the ocean, a grandchild’s gorgeous smile, or the warmth of my husband’s strong arms.  But how much is tantalizingly just past my view, but as familiar as these photos as if all my days will be spent at the beach.

What a terrific notion, ha ha.  Maybe Dad is fishing along the Sacramento River, one of his fave spots.  Our time in this realm is mysterious, or maybe it’s as obvious as the earth revealed at low tide.  I love viewing the beach in this manner, like a blanket has been pulled back, proffering a peek at a usually hidden world.  Our lives could be deemed the same, the outer layers like high tide, but underneath, ahhh….

Bring on the continued mystery!  I can’t wait to see what happens next.

A short post

Just a little road trip today, to Pacific Grove, and the 17-Mile Drive.  Gorgeous weather, great company, and my husband even did all the driving.

More pictures to come.  I really, REALLY love the ocean.

A writer and the Pacific Ocean

Confessions of a recovering workaholic

Hi, my name is Anna.  It’s been twenty-two days since I started slacking off…

That’s how this post starts, as that is truly how I’ve been feeling since 2013 began.  Today I went to Capitola, took too many shots of the beach.  Recently I got a new phone, a smartphone, my first.  It has an eight megapixel camera; if I could have gotten a phone sans internet with that good of a camera, I would have.  Unfortunately that doesn’t exist, but it was handy to send my eldest a text from the beach, and a picture to go along with it.

All photos taken today with a Nokia Lumia, 8 megapixels.

All photos taken today with a Nokia Lumia.

Going to the beach happened a lot more often when I wasn’t publishing, but I’ve had my nose to the monitor long before I released The War On Emily Dickinson.  I documented a year of intense scribbling that had little to do with anything more than pumping out first drafts and poking around just a wee bit at other novels.  Part of my previous doggedness was that I am so blessed to not work outside the house.  I was a SAHM, now I’m a SAHWife.  But just because I’m here all day (when not at the beach) doesn’t mean I’m eating bons-bons and watching TV.  My butt has been in the chair solidly since 2008; five years of writing novels, editing novels, publishing novels.  I think I’m due for a rest.

But it’s hard pulling myself away from the project at hand.  Or what comes with publishing; The Timeless Nature of Patience was shipped to Apple on 5 January, has yet to appear.  I wrote to Smashwords last week, received a reply yesterday that Apple doesn’t like the word ‘free’ at the beginning of the book.  I was requested to remove it, upload the new version, then write back to the customer service representative so she could reship it to Apple.  Well, the only place where ‘free’ is written is within the Smashwords License Notes, right after the book’s title.  I spent yesterday reading through Timeless Nature, searching for any typos; if I have to upload it again, it might as well be without glitches.

But today I wanted to try out the new camera.  After breakfast and a few chores around the house, I loaded up my bag; folder for the courageous idea, phone, iPod (which I will use as my media center), headphones, scarf, extra shirt, as it was supposed to be quite pleasant at the beach.  Part of the fun is the drive itself; I crank the tunes, sing at the top of my lungs, pretend I’m the guest of the week on Top Gear, trying out the Reasonably Priced Car.  (I tend not to dawdle on Highway 17 heading to the water.)

Meanwhile, as I’m just minding my own business, trying to not work, another novel idea pops into my head, not fair!  Over coffee and biscotti at Gayle’s in Capitola, I wrote some notes; we’ll see how that idea settles.  But once that was done (the work never ends), I gathered my bits, and drove to The Hook.  The day had warmed nicely; I removed the sweater, put on a light long-sleeved shirt, grabbed the phone, heading to the water.  Unlike last week, the tide was relatively high, but by my return to the car park, it was waning; low tide was supposed to be at about two p.m.

I still haven’t heard from Smashwords if I need to change the license notes, but I certainly enjoyed my outing.  And I’m thinking about what it means to make time for oneself that has nothing, or as little as possible, to do with the work.  The work, my my my…  Until only recently, I had not realized how pervasive the work had become.

It’s not work for which I am compensated monetarily.  It’s not work for which I punch a time card.  It’s nothing more than all that sits within my soul that isn’t connected to my husband and family.  It’s very tethered to God, in that there is no way on earth I could do this without divine guidance.  However, it is still up to little old me to GET IT DONE.  Git’r done, as my dad would say.


So, since 2008, I’ve been writing and revising and plotting my poor old brain to not quite mush, but close.  Now having pulled back the reins, letting the horse have a gentle trot, dude!  It feels…  Strange, liberating, a little like playing hooky.  I know why I’ve pushed myself; what else should I be doing?  I am not the type to sit on my hands; even while watching football this past weekend, I was crocheting, in part to keep my fingers busy, and to not watch every single frame of movement.  I’m good at peeking up just as the ball is hiked.  But then back under my glasses went my eyes, double stitch after double stitch.

I don’t like to dawdle on roadways or at home.

But now the brakes are definitely on; I’ve been farting around all month, for me.  Yes, I’ve read over Penny Angel twice, I’ve read through most of Timeless Nature once.  I’ve been plotting Forever of One Heart (which at this point means making the playlist and mumbling plenty of story to myself).  Now I have another idea to consider, plus I’ve been tweaking the playlist for A Normal Life Book 3, which I think I might write in April for Camp NaNo.  It’s not like I’ve been lounging on the sofa all month.


Well, I did last week when I wasn’t feeling so great.  And it drove me positively NUTS!  I can’t stand being idle; it’s like napping.  I hate taking naps, oh jeez, makes me cranky to even think about it.  And I have no idea why I am this way, maybe homeschooling the kids?  That took a lot of work on everyone’s part, and since I was the planner, well, you see where this is going.  We homeschooled for nine of our eleven years in England, then moved back here, putting our son and youngest daughter into American high school.  Which was okay, education-wise, for them.  It was bizarre for me; so much time, what to do with it all?

As you can guess, I started writing.  Well, I started editing my first NaNo project, which ended up being published in 2009 by a small press.  But by January 2008, I had four novels written, was on my way.  And for the last five years, I haven’t quit.

It’s funny, thinking back on our return to America; so many things changed.  I returned to my native state having written a novel, with no clue to what that actually meant.  It meant my arm was twisted by my eldest to participate in NaNoWriMo, then many years later I’m at the beach, texting with her, sending photographs, thinking about the latest story idea.  Maybe that’s why I’ve not slowed down previously.  I have more plots than sense.

Maybe not as many plots as beach pictures, but I’m starting to see my forty-seventh year in the distance, and time is short.  Sure I might live to one hundred five, or I might kick off a whole lot sooner.  But I have so much I want to express, many ideas before I sleep.  That was just one of the reasons I went indie, but it is one of the biggest to spur my workaholism.  Yet, I am fully aware that what needs to be written, revised, then released will be written, revised, then released.  I am very thankful for my faith, not just to keep me going, but to steer me in another direction, like over Highway 17, to Gayle’s for a latte and biscotti.  Yes, I wrote out the basis for a novel while sitting there, but afterwards I left that folder in my car, picked up a phone that is probably smarter than me.  Then I headed west from the car park, to the edge of forever.  I am a writer, no question about it.  I’m also just a gal who loves the ocean.  I love the water, my husband and kids, football, crocheting, blogging, chocolate, and English tea, with a little milk.

I think I’ll make myself a cuppa right now.  There is no time like the moment, and it’s not always about writing and publishing.

Charting another course

It’s a chilly morning here in Silicon Valley; grass is crunchy, breaths are puffs.  I know this because I stood in our doorway, peering to the white-tipped front lawn as my husband left for his walk, wearing his silly hat.  He wore it last night as we strolled the sand at The Hook in Capitola, a very low tide providing all the stretch of beach one will see for many months.  The tide was at -1.5 feet at 4.14 p.m. yesterday; I have never seen it so low.

All pictures from The Hook, Capitola, California; low tide on 11 January, 2012.

All pictures from The Hook, Capitola, California; low tide on 11 January, 2012.

I love walking the beach when the tide is out; I feel like I’m traveling on a new part of the earth.  Late yesterday afternoon my husband and I, along with many others, took advantage of nature’s willingness to bare some of her beauty.  This morning is crisp and cool, not that the beach was overly warm yesterday, but what a difference a few hours makes; today at ten a.m. the tide crested at 6.3 feet.

What impressed me yesterday was for how low the tide was, the sand was still wet.  The water had peaked yesterday morning at nine a.m., had probably stayed fairly high for much of the day.  But by four in the afternoon, another world was revealed.  And now it’s covered again, waves smashing against the cliff.

Tides are cyclical; maybe writing is too.  For the last two years, publishing has been my focus, which means big revisions, formatting documents, choosing covers.  (I don’t do the actual designing, but I give my two cents.)  I wrote some in 2012, but not as much as in the last few years; I know this because I just examined my writing timeline; good grief, it made me dizzy.  For a time I was spewing manuscripts like I would never get another chance to write.

During those days (mid 2009-mid 2011) I also took a lot of photographs in Capitola.  How I managed all that, well, I wasn’t publishing for most of that time.  The other thing I noticed in the writing timeline was how quickly a novel went from conjuring the plot to plunking it on the keyboard; a matter of days for some manuscripts.  I’m glad I have that timeline, even if it made me a little nauseous.  Amazing what the brain and body can manage when the right conditions exist.

Like watching the tide, so low, but I’ve seen it smashing against the cliff side, gotten attacked even.  My husband was a little leery, wondering if I wanted to walk along the waves last night.  I smiled, said getting biffed by the ocean once was enough for me.  All I wanted to do was set my feet on ground rarely trod.  That sort of low tide happens once or twice a year.

I feel a little like that now, slacking on the publishing while returning my attentions to writing.  Don’t get me wrong, the thrill of releasing books is pretty darn heady, a giddy bliss setting a novel in cyberspace for all eternity.  For as long as the internet exists, as e-readers continue to light, my stories live and breathe, as beautiful to some as the ocean is to me.

My husband on the left, in his adorable and silly hat.

My husband on the left, in his adorable hat.

But there wouldn’t be any publishing without writing.  The creative shove as a vague notion becomes concrete notes and a playlist, oh man, that’s just as intoxicating as uploading a formatted document.  One of those courageous new ideas has been gnawing at me; I’m listening to the playlist while writing this, spent early yesterday afternoon sorting details.  I’ve edited a couple of chapters on Penny Angel, but more yanking my chain is a novel still with no firm title, but a thumping heart that has wedged itself deep in my soul.

I can’t say which is more pleasing; publishing a book or pondering its beginnings.  Both are magical, like low and high tide.  I think I like low tide better; I’m leaving my footprints in the sand, even if for only moments.  I can’t be a part of high tide, other than observing and snapping it.  As for outlining/plotting a novel and publishing one…

That’s sort of like the chicken and the egg; can’t have one without the other.  I will say this, plotting is less stressful, more enjoyable.  It’s freer, but the payoff isn’t nearly as visible.  Many books remain cloistered in the hard drive, their existence only as dates on the timeline; when I came up with the idea, started writing it, then completed it.

A published novel earns a blog post, a gorgeous cover, readers.  But all the books I’ve released stand upon the shoulders of those dormant; if not for those previous words, the published ones wouldn’t exist.

When I pounded out all those stories, it never felt like work, in that I had no control over plots and ideas; I typed what came into my head as easy as breathing.  Publishing is far more intense, and while I don’t wish to go back to those more carefree days, I am enjoying slacking off a bit.  Going to the beach was necessary, especially with my hubby along.

I was worried the sun was too low, but the colours were just perfect.

I was worried the sun was too low, but the colours were perfect.

Also just as lovely was plotting out the next book before we traversed Highway 17, before the tide slipped so far away.  Now he’s on his walk, the tide is high, and I’m mulling over where am I right now.

I’m a novelist, charting yet another course of this journey.  It’s always in some new place, even if I’m just sorting out one more angsty drama.  Like the tide, once again pulling from, then smashing into, the shore.

Saying goodbye to 2012

From 2008; 31 December spent walking along the beach in Santa Cruz.

When we lived in Britain, we always enjoyed the year-end round-ups, usually on Sky, noting achievements from news and sport to entertainment and other issues, I’m sure.  We can’t seem to find something similar here in America, a pity.  It was a way to frame the end of the year, a marker.  It felt very comforting.

Right now I’m in a bit of discomfort; amid making a cuppa and starting my dishwasher, I put my lower back into a tizzy.  I had just finished the WIP, but had yet to correct the mistypings.  All I was doing was standing there, I promise.  Now I’m sitting, and will be doing so for a while to come.

But that doesn’t negate all that occurred in 2012; I published books, a good number of them.  I wrote some as well, started another, also completed two short stories, very exciting all-round.  When I wasn’t working (or straining my back) I was plotting, then reveling in my eldest daughter’s wedding.  Occasionally I went to the beach, although not nearly as often as I would have liked.  For three years running my husband and I went to Santa Cruz and Capitola to usher in the new year.  This year I’ll be lucky to step outside my back door to watch the hummingbirds.

It’s been a wonderful year, wordy both in novels and blogs; I switched to WordPress in July, am loving it for the smooth interface, new friends I’ve made, also reconnecting with old pals.  I’ve learned so much about indie publishing, I’ve become a better writer with every book released, an even better editor.  I’ve engaged with readers who make my heart leap, I’ve read new authors who have captured my soul (more on those in January).  I have recommitted myself to this tasking, which is not easy, but then, loading my dishwasher seems fraught with peril.  Writing is not as precarious as kitchen chores, but it’s not without some drama.  Or a lot of drama; releasing The Timeless Nature of Patience was a thrill, still makes me smile.

In the meantime, I’ve taken painkillers.  I’ve finished Where The Ball Is, and lord help me, might be considering not just a sequel for that book, but a third tale as well.  Writing and publishing are indeed sometimes thorny, but I shall prevail.  A host of manuscripts wait for revising, heh heh heh.  Not an aching back or missing year-end TV specials can dissuade me, when I can post photographs like the one above, or yet one more of darling Buttercup.  She was a treasure falling into our lives this year; what wonders might I encounter in 2013?

In her new Christmas sweater; I think she’s just adorable!