The Rambling Writer Returns to Crete, Part 4: South Coast Memories

Another flashback to my hippie backpacking days on Crete, camping and exploring the rugged south coast.

NOTE: Of course, Thor and I had to make another trip to Greece, as he’s fallen as much in love with the islands as I am. This time, in addition to other island-hopping, I wanted to return to Crete after 37 years. My first months-long trip was as a hippie backpacker, camping in the ruins and falling under the spell of the mysterious, vanished Minoan culture. This time, I got to introduce Thor to “glorious Kriti” and research more settings for my novel-in-progress, THE ARIADNE DISCONNECT. This new blog series started October 19, 2019, and will continue every Saturday.

“The best laid plans of mice and (wo)men….” In last week’s post, I promised photos and stories of Thor’s and my arrival in South Crete, but alas my computer decided otherwise. Remember when we actually believed that computers were going to be as friendly as the “Star Trek” cheerily helpful, all-knowing AI? My newish computer keeps throwing nasty surprises in my path, eating up way too much time and energy to address, so today we’re going to revisit another rough-and-ready episode from my early days on Crete. Tighten your backpack straps and join me!

After arriving by overnight ferry on the north coast of Crete, my partner Jim and I had followed a winding thread across the mountainous island, involving some rattletrap bus rides, cheerful misdirections, and a 3-hour stumble in the deepening dusk down a rocky cliffside trail carrying a heavy backpack. We were heading toward a remote cove and the tiny settlement of Loutro, accessible only by this cliff trail or boat. Continue reading

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New Worlds: The Map Is Not the Terrain

(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)

Maps come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. But they all share one thing in common: they are, at best, approximations of the thing they represent.

This is inevitable. Even the most high-resolution satellite image is not going to capture square foot of ground, every leaf in that square foot, every cell within a given leaf. Nor is it going to tell us the temperature in that locations, the direction of the prevailing wind, or what polity controls that spot. And we don’t want it to, because there’s a point at which the data becomes too abundant to be useful. A good map is one that serves the purpose at hand, whether that’s helping you navigate to your destination or pinpointing the relative locations of important sites.

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Horror Stories

Jane Austen wrote horror novels.

Don’t get me wrong. I think Jane Austen wrote great books, ones that show us so much of the detail and truth about the lives of some women in Regency England that it feels like we’re in that world. Through that lens, we get a more thorough view of the overall society, one that provides an excellent balance to the focus on the wars we get from history books.

She certainly belongs in the canon of great English writers. But I can only read her in small doses. Her stories are so painful that I physically hurt when I read them.

To be a woman in her day and age is my idea of hell on Earth, and I say this while living in a world dealing with autocrats, white supremacy, and the climate crisis.

So imagine how shocked I am to find there are women who want to pretend they live in that world.  I can imagine very few things (war, famine, concentration camps) more horrific than being in that world, even on a pretend basis. Continue reading

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BVC Announces Evergreen by Marissa Doyle

Evergreen by Marissa Doyle

Evergreen

by Marissa Doyle

A deadly power walks the forest…but a worse one stalks her.

It’s 1901–a brave new century–and seventeen-year-old Grace Boisvert thinks it’s high time to forget that she’s a dryad; being able to talk to trees just doesn’t seem very useful in the automobile age. A little hair dye to touch up her green roots, and she’s off to join her best friend Alice Roosevelt for a visit to glamorous Newport, RI, with her family’s warnings not to fall for any human boys ringing in her ears.

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RTFM*

I am, by nature, a dive-in-and-figure-it-out sort of technology user. This may come from my early days as a computer user, when my then room-mate and sometime business partner dropped a box on my desk and said “we’re doing a user’s manual for X Corp. Can you learn this” — this being PageMaker, the forerunner of InDesign, a page layout program–“by next week? I should have copy for you then.”

Reader, I did not rise up and slay him; I learned the program, eventually well enough that I taught classes in it. I still use those skills:  one of the things I do at my day job is to use InDesign to produce the posters, ads, and other marketing materials that the museum I work at needs for promotion. But–more to the point–I learn best by doing, and only rely on the manual when there’s something I cannot figure out on my own. This leads, of course, to inefficiency and occasional tearful hilarity, but it is also the way I learn best. I once knew someone who read the entire manual for any new piece of software or equipment before she started to use it… I admire this, but it is not my way.**

Which brings me to this morning. Continue reading

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Re-booting the Writing Life

We’re mostly unpacked after moving to the new house, wonderful, comfortable, large enough to hold the above hamster wheel desk. The old house has a buyer, November settled down on us with sunny and crisp cold days and colder nights and I am looking at our current income with consternation.

A day job is not in my plans. I’ve done that, and I’m all done doing that. So I need to make money writing.

Aha, you say. What a crap shoot that is. Who makes money writing? Who supports a better-than-minimum income through writing? Who works long, lonely hours? Who runs their own business, agents, advertisements, reviews, book art and all? And keeping up with one’s blog.

Lots of people. I know these fine people, excellent, hard-working, talented and devoted to their craft. It isn’t easy. And it’s a full-time job, on-call, holidays and weekends.

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The Rambling Writer Returns to Crete, Part 3: Gorges of South Crete

Come time-travel with me as Thor and I drive a rocky passage to the sea, and I flashback to my first Cretan hike down the Gorge of Samaria.

NOTE: Of course, Thor and I had to make another trip to Greece, as he’s fallen as much in love with the islands as I am. This time, in addition to other island-hopping, I wanted to return to Crete after 37 years. My first months-long trip was as a hippie backpacker, camping in the ruins and falling under the spell of the mysterious, vanished Minoan culture. This time, I got to introduce Thor to “glorious Kriti” and research more settings for my novel-in-progress, THE ARIADNE DISCONNECT. This new blog series started October 19, 2019, and will continue every Saturday.

In last week’s post, we delved into the ancient Minoan cemetery of Armeni and marveled at the rich trove of its relics displayed in the Rethymno museum. Then we headed for the south coast in our rental car, where we planned to enjoy some swimming and beach R&R at the laid-back village of Plakias. Crete’s east-west backbone of rugged mountains dictates some circuitous routes, and much of the south coast is not accessible by road, only by boat. Luckily Plakias was a fairly quick drive from the north coast, with the option of two different gorges to follow to reach the shore. We chose the Kourtaliotiko Gorge, its rugged walls looming over the roadway and dropping to an almost-dry stream bed. (It was late September; in the winter and spring the stream would be rushing.) Continue reading

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New Worlds: Finding Your Way

(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)

In these days of GPS telling us every turn to take and where to find a parking spot when we get to our destination, it’s easy to forget that finding your way from Point A to Point B used to be a substantial challenge. Substantial enough, in fact, that one aspect of it was the subject of large cash prizes offered by national governments.

But let’s start with the simplest end, which is navigation via landmarks. Even now, this is often a key component of how we give directions: not just “turn right on Grove Street,” but “turn right at the Peet’s Coffee onto Grove Street.” Makes sense; businesses are often much easier to spot than our tiny little street signs. But the street signs are still necessary, because the person following the directions may well pass more than one Peet’s along the way.

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