Wow. What a Game Five! What a series it’s been so far. Those of you who know me, know that my beloved San Francisco Giants failed to make it to the World Series for the third year in a row. But I still watch the games. Well, not every pitch, but I check out the score, walk a way if it looks like it’s going to be a lopsided game. And try not to get too emotionally involved.
I thought I was going to turn the game off last night when Clayton Kershaw entered the game with a three run lead. I mean, it’s Kershaw. Give him run support in the regular season and it’s pretty much lights out.
So I ate my dinner, worked on my book and when the Dodgers went ahead 4-0 in the fourth inning I grabbed my Kindle and took a bath. I was happily immersed in a make-believe world when I heard my husband’s excited shouts from the living room. Now, we’re Giants fans, so there is no love lost for the Dodgers. I came out to find the game was tied up.
Okay. I’ll watch. This could be good, but if the Dodgers take the lead again, I’m out. So they scored another three runs. But then so did the Houston Astros. A 7-7 tie, we’ve got ourselves a ballgame.
And what a game it was. Very exciting to watch, even for semi-objective fans like myself, who don’t care who wins as long as it’s not the Dodgers.
Oh, and to add to all the excitement, my publisher has put BETTER THAN PERFECT on sale for a limited time.
Monday was the Labor Day Holiday in the U.S., a day in which we celebrate having a job by taking the day off. So, my hard-working son took a rare summer holiday off from his job as a river guide, to take his friends and his parents down the Middle Fork of the American River.
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone had a job they would do on their day off? Just for fun? But that’s a topic for another day.
So, back to the river. We mostly do the South Fork of the American River. It’s easy to just throw a trip together and make a day of it. We did the lower half on Saturday, which was our fifth or sixth trip this year. We got a late start this summer, due to high water in the early part. The Middle Fork is a more technical river, with one rapid that is un-runnable, and one that is really difficult.
The first big rapid is called Tunnel Chute. Built in the late 1800s by miners, it’s well, here are some pictures of a group that went down before us.
The first boat flipped. The next one made it.
Pretty intense. Here’s my husband sending our old school bucket boat down without us or the oars. Not so easy to flip. But it has other issues.
The old girl fills with water and isn’t so maneuverable. Here’s a shot after sending it down the second rapid we couldn’t take passengers down.
The plan was to jump in and paddle hard to the next eddy. My son is used to self-bailing boats that are much lighter when they get to the bottom of Ruck-A-Chucky. This is another man-made rapid where they tried to build a dam in the 30s. The river isn’t having it when man tries to control it.
So our son’s friend jumped in and tried to paddle to the next eddy, but he ended up going over the next rapid instead. Then we had to pull the boat back upstream so they could make the rapid after that, called Parallel Parking. You think it’s a challenge in a Buick? On the river, there is no driving around the block if you get the angle wrong.
But we all survived, and so did our boats. We lost two of our buckets, though. Oh, and when I spotted it downriver just above Texas Chainsaw, I rolled right on out of the boat. Then I rolled under the boat, kicked off the side of the wall, and had to swim over boulders to the other boat. I thought about staying with the kids. They did have bacon-flavored cheese in a can, but I needed to bail out the oar boat.
Stay tuned for more river stories over the next few weeks. I have a new book coming out September 19, and some of the river tales are based on real life events.
I write Romance. The tagline I’ve come up with for my books is “Adventure Sports Romance.” This describes both my baseball books and my whitewater rafting series.
I feel like I need to write a disclaimer about my rafting books. My books are more heartwarming than heart-stopping. Kind of like rafting in normal years, where you have a few exhilarating moments scattered along with stretches of beauty and peacefulness and fun.
Even though the first book in my Swift River Romance series opens with a rescue as the meet-cute, the creek Lily is plucked from is really just a small creek, swollen from normal runoff in mid-May. Other than a few bruises and adrenaline overload, she can laugh about the experience over a few beers afterwards.
This year, the river is different. Most years on the South Fork, the biggest risks are sunburn, dehydration, or bumps and bruises from hitting a rock when falling out. Oh, and rattlesnakes. After more than twenty-five years rafting with my husband (with a few years time-out when our kids were little) my only injury was a banged up tailbone from falling out on Troublemaker and hitting a rock ten days before my first RWA National Conference. I still can’t do sit-ups, but I’m okay with that.
This year the water levels are high. Very high.
Notice the helmets, wetsuits, and life jackets. Also, even though this was a private trip, we have two trained guides. My husband has thirty years experience, and my son has done several training trips this spring at high water. While many college kids spent their Spring Break on a beach somewhere slamming beers, my son did a refresher safety course and first aid. He also has a food handling card.
His safety training came in handy over the long weekend. On Saturday, we planned to do a full river trip, which would have taken about four hours at this water level. (I couldn’t tell you what it was running, I leave that to my guides). But the first few rapids were big. And in our old bucket boat, we took on a lot of water. There were no eddies to pull to the side to bail and catch our breath before the next rapid. Also, my husband gave our second bucket to some guys who thought they could just use their helmets to bail. Not a good idea.
Anyway, the river finally slowed enough for us to bail and have a picnic on our boat. The rocks we usually park on are underwater now. My oldest son, the guide, decided to boogie board on a smaller rapid so he put on his fins and got out ahead of us a little ways.
Downriver, on our right we saw some guys with a throw rope and at first thought they were training. Then we saw the bright yellow paddle jacket in the water where they were aiming the rope. My husband quickly rowed to the shore and grabbed his throw rope and ran back up the bank yelling for my son to avoid the bushes as he made his way to shore.
A kayaker had become snagged by her spray skirt on some bushes and couldn’t grab hold of the rope. It took a team of experienced guides, ex-guides, and kayakers to finally pull her free and into one of the other boats. Thankfully she was able to walk with assistance to meet the ambulance that met us at the campground downstream. Fortunately, someone had a satellite phone since cell coverage is limited along the river. Only one company has coverage and residents have fought any additional towers.
She was checked out by the emergency medical crew and as far as I know didn’t need transport to the hospital.
So if you are so inspired by reading my books, that you want to get out on the river, please use an experienced commercial company. I can recommend ARTA River Trips, but there are many other companies with experience and training.
Or if you really want to play it safe, get your thrills from the safety of your eReader.
I think this picture sums up this Spring in Northern California perfectly. After years of only getting winter from 6-10 am, this year’s winter is lingering. Yet, signs of spring are everywhere (especially my truck, it’s covered with pollen and tiny flowers that blew off my maple tree).
As an educator, I’m ready for a well-deserved and much-needed break. But I’m also a writer, so I’m hoping to make this a productive vacation. I have some research to conduct for a new series, and then I really need to make some progress in drafting the first book in the series.
You’d think that by my eighth book, drafting would become easier, or at least more efficient. Not so much. I’m trying to outline more, and in some ways it is easier. I know what needs to happen, but there’s still a lot of writing that needs to be done between plot points.
I took two days to go skiing with my family. I’m the last one to get into the sport, despite having gone to high school in Tahoe. The rest of them started young. I still remember taking my oldest up to Mt. Shasta when he was about three. At the time they still had a rope tow and he couldn’t get the hang of it, causing a major meltdown. Not good for the snow conditions. So my father-in-law took him back to our cabin and had him ski down the driveway. After a few runs, he was a skier. It’s taken me thirty years to get the hang of it. But if I’m going to spend time with my teenagers, I need to do what they enjoy. And trust me, I’m much better at skiing than video games.
This was from a few weeks ago. My kids don’t actually ski with me. But they’re more than happy to join us for lunch. If we’re buying.
This is the view from the top. You can see Lake Tahoe, always a beautiful sight, especially when the lake is full.
We’re expecting another storm later in the week. Which will make the last two weekends pretty spectacular.
Then we’ll look forward to spending the summer on the river. We’ll catch a few baseball games. Hopefully we’ll spend some time at our family cabin near Mt. Shasta. And the cool part, is that all of this can be considered research for my books.
This morning I wrote a short post about how I need to see the little things I do on a daily basis can make a difference for the kids I work with. It was sort of a pep talk to get me in the right frame of mind to face the day and the challenges ahead.
By this afternoon, I had tears in my eyes. But they were the good kind. Because a group of fifth graders inspired me and made me so proud to be a part of their education.
I started working with most of these kids in Kindergarten. There were a lot of them, four classes with about five or six more students than when my kids were that age. There were enough volunteers to provide some support, but not enough to give them the best start in school. So the district hired three aides, or paraeducators, to rotate through the classes and give each student that extra attention they needed.
That was the year I went from being a parent volunteer to paid staff. Over the years, I’ve added hours and changed roles based on the needs of the students.
But back to the kids. These are the kids I’ve worked with all six years. I helped many of them go from not being able to write their name or open their milk carton to reading multi-syllabic words and being able to open their Gogurt without getting it in their hair. We went from making ABC books to researching on their Chromebooks. We learned about seasons and the solar system, geology and the Gold Rush, farm animals and fractions.
Today the my fifth graders held a Living Wax Museum. After weeks of research and preparation, they arranged themselves around the classroom, dressed as famous people throughout history as students, school staff, parents, and a pair of police officers from our community came through the exhibit. Each character stood still until someone pushed a button on their poster and they would then give three to five facts about their famous person.
It was amazing. I learned about Edison and Elvis. Jackie Robinson and Jackie Kennedy. Steven Spielberg, Stan Lee, and Sally Ride. Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, and Houdini. Anne Frank and Annie Oakley. Malala Yousafzai and Marie Curie. Walt Disney and Willie Mays. Babe Ruth and Derek Jeter. J.K. Rowling, Roald Dahl, and Dr. Suess. Princess Diana and President Kennedy. Bob Marley and Ben Franklin. Laura Ingalls Wilder and Leonardo Da Vinci. Deborah Sampson and a few more I can’t recall because by the time I got to all of them, I had a few goosebumps.
These kids stayed in character (for the most part) in position (really hard, especially after being cooped up for rainy days on end) and replayed their message to at least four classes.
And every single one of them did an outstanding job. Even if they forgot their lines, they kept going, improvising with other facts they’d learned about their character. They stood or sat in place while other classes made their way around the room, sometimes skipping over a person they didn’t know about, or coming back and pressing their buttons only seconds after they just finished speaking.
Did I mention how amazing they were? How they inspired all of the adults in the room? How they made us sigh, and cry a little at how lucky we are to work in public education?
It’s February, and that means a very special day is coming up this month. On February 14, Pitchers and Catchers report to Spring Training.
Oh, and I’m told it’s also Valentine’s Day. Which is the perfect time to share a Romance with your sweetie.
Come on, Ladies. How many times have you wished your man has acted more like the heroes of your favorite Romance novels?
And how many times have you Men wished there was some kind of manual to help you understand women?
Guess what. There is hope. Which is at the heart of the Romance novel. And in my More Than A Game series, there is also baseball.
I’ll admit, that I’m especially romantic about baseball. One of the first movies my husband took me to way back when we were dating was Field of Dreams. And for my bachelorette party, I watched Bull Durham with my bridesmaids. Our Anniversaries often involve baseball games. Oh, and a few years ago, my ultra romantic husband bought me Javier Lopez’s batting helmet at the game used store at San Francisco Giants Fan Fest.
And I have a bit of a romantic side myself. I did name the hero of my first book, Johnny Scottsdale, after my husband. Well, the name his cousin used to call him when they were kids to tease him. Cousin Mike told my sweet honey that he wasn’t really a Mathews, his real name was Johnny Scottsdale, and he was left on the doorstep. But I got the last laugh.
So, if you’re looking for a Romance that you can share with your sweetie, I have had several men tell me they enjoyed Better Than Perfect. And it happens to be on sale this month for only 99 cents. Plus, the eBook means they don’t have to worry about their friends seeing the cover.
The other books in my More Than A Game series are good too. And they just might inspire a game of catch, or whatever.
Hope you enjoy celebrating Pitchers and Catchers report to Spring Training day. It’s the most romantic day of the year. (Unless you’re married to a pitcher or catcher. Then the rest of us thank you for your sacrifice).
It’s hard to believe another year has come and gone. I know a lot of people are looking forward to the New Year with hope. “Maybe 2017 will be the year when I (insert dream here).”
For those of you hoping to finally achieve whatever goal you’re hoping for, whether it’s better health, financial freedom, or following a long-held dream, I say go for it. It’s not too late, and it’s not too soon, either. Of course, dreams don’t always come true on our timelines, but they never come true if they remain only dreams.
But before I think about what I want to accomplish in the next year, I need to reflect a bit on what I did do in 2016.
I released three books in 2016.
Earning A Ring, More Than A Game 4 came out in January
Swept Away, A Swift River Romance 1 released in July
And right before Christmas, In Too Deep, A Swift River Romance 2 came out.
I attended my second Romance Writers of America National Conference in San Diego. I got to meet my publisher, several of my fellow Kensington authors and some of my favorite authors. I cried through Robyn Carr’s Lifetime Achievement Award and laughed with my new best author friends.
I celebrated my 23rd Wedding Anniversary with my husband.
My oldest son graduated from High School and my youngest son graduated from Middle School.
My Senior went to the State Ski Championships in Mt. Shasta.
My younger son went to Italy with his grandparents and aunt uncle.
We took a family trip to Wilson, Wyoming, near Jackson and the Grand Tetons.
We spent most summer weekends on the river, where my oldest boy worked as a raft guide and the rest of us played in our own raft, bringing friends and family along for the ride.
And we will end the year where we began it, on top of Mt. Shasta, for night skiing and celebration.
Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, prosperous New Year.