Why I’ve been quiet: the peace of a beach holiday followed by a peaceful, sad death

Why I’ve been quiet: the peace of a beach holiday followed by a peaceful, sad death

We were at the beach for two weeks with a poor Net connection, and it was too frustrating to try to post anything.

The first warning of trouble came while we were there: my father had had a fall and was in the hospital, but he was okay..

My father and I were close: I usually called him every day, but it had been difficult to call from the beach because the Net connection was so poor. I’d begun to use my international cell phone (when I could get a signal), which sends a call from the southern coast of Mexico to London, England, to Oakland, California. The miracle of modern-day communication!

“I’m in the hospital!” he said, dismayed, and then he was overtaken by pain and there was nothing more I could say except “I love you!” I didn’t know then that these would be my last words to him … at least words he could hear and understand.

And then, back in our winter home in San Miguel de Allende, we got the call: my dad was dying. I flew to California to camp at Motel 6 and sit by his bedside with my family in the Kaiser hospital in Hayward. “Comfort Care” were the instructions on the whiteboard: and that’s exactly what he got. Excellent comfort. (Such great nurses there.)

My dear 95-year-old dad passed away peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of January 31. I wept in Motel 6 and on the airplane back to San Miguel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA DAD (smaller for mailing)

Getting to work is its own form of comfort — that and working on the memorial and mailings and all the busyness of death.

I knew that at 68 myself, I was lucky to have a surviving parent, especially a dad who was so perpetually cheerful. He lived in the beautiful home I’d grown up in the Berkeley hills.

He was a ham radio operator all his life, and his ham radio buddies made the last call to W6UMP (my dad) and wished him well in his new life.

And so, if I’ve been a bit slow posting here, please understand that it has a lot to do with a sad and overwhelming love, as well as helping to prepare for my dad’s memorial (which is going to be wonderful, I know).

What I have done  

• Continued to update the facts regarding Hortense’s life into Aeon Timeline (in preparation for the outline: alarmingly overdue).

• Made a final draft of my NET PROMO FOR WRITERS AND OTHER LUDDITES in connection with the workshop I will be giving on Sunday the 17th. I plan to publish this as an INK e-book. Basically, it’s everything I know and then some.

• Sent in the “final” draft of IN THE SERVICE OF THE SHADOW QUEEN. Bar a few tweaks, it will likely go into copy editing now. I’d always been a little perplexed about the dedication. I had thought of dedicating it to my dad, but I’d dedicated a book to him before. But even so, two of the characters in this novel are so very much like him. And so: without a doubt, the dedication now reads:

In memory of my father, Robert Zentner

(1917 — 2013)

whose lovable eccentricities are reflected

in several of the characters in this novel.



On giving a workshop, becoming a publisher, revising …

On giving a workshop, becoming a publisher, revising …

A few weeks ago, as I’ve likely mentioned on this blog, I gave a workshop at the San Miguel Writers’ Conference: Net Book Promo for Luddites. I had given this workshop two years before at the Kingston WritersFest, but quite a bit had changed since then.

My intention is to someday offer the content of this course as a free e-book on this site.

The workshop went very well, but the experience, for me, was a bit fraught because:

1) of course the Wi-Fi didn’t connect,

2) we needed to track down a cord that would connect my newish Mac to the projector,

3) only to realize that I didn’t have the files I needed on my computer (because I was expecting a different type of projector).

And then Naomi Wolf slipped into the class: she of the kazillion Social Media followers! (If you haven’t read her book — or seen the resultant movie — The End of America: do. Extremely important.)

During the conference and after, writers Merilyn Simonds, Wayne Grady, Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson stayed with us. Do you think we talked about writing and publishing? You bet. It was a wonderful week.

With the help of novelist, designer and tech wiz Kris Waldherr, I’m getting closer to launching Sandra Gulland Ink, my e-book publishing venture.

The covers have been finished, accounts set up with Kobo and Amazon — iTunes yet to come. (Apple is so slow!)

I read a lot of e-books, and I want these to be special. Kris has done a beautiful job of designing the books inside and out. I’m imprint proud!

Also, of course, I’ve had to re-read all my books, to proof them. Also, of course, I’ve made changes.

I’ve been putting off re-reading Mistress of the Sun, however — but the time has come. It’s timely, because right now I’m working on the final draft of This Bright Darkness (working title of what will become The Shadow Queen), and the two novels are linked.

As I’m rewriting, I think often of Ariel Gore‘s summary of the revision process: lather and rinse, lather and rinse. Right now, I’m lathering, working up detail, adding scenes. Then I’ll edit (rinse) before I send the manuscript to my editor.

And then it will be time to dive into the next novel, my YA about Josephine’s daughter Hortense.

Busy: yes!