Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wednesday Shout-Out: Team Jordan
Check Spelling

I've long been a fan of Jordan Romero and the adults who accompany him, Paul and Karen. Jordan's a teen who knows what he wants and is willing to work extremely hard to get it. Paul, Jordan's father, and Karen, Paul's partner, are the amazing adults who have guided Jordan through his Seven Summits quest and have braved the inevitable flak that (some of) the media and general public have thrown their way.

When a child wants to do something extraordinary, the adults around him or her rarely jump on board. Kids hear "can't" and "shouldn't" and "when you're older" all the time; it's been refreshing to follow the story of a family that, instead, essentially said "you can," "you should if you want to," and "there's no reason to wait." Paul and Karen, and Jordan's mother, Leigh Ann Drake, have given and continue to give Jordan the gift of "yes." They've instilled an important value into this incredible young man -- that anything is possible with enough preparation and a lot of hard work.

Jordan's now gearing up to summit Antarctica's highest mountain, Mt. Vinson (16, 050 feet). He hopes to reach the top on December 12. If he's successful, he will have accomplished the goal he set for himself when he was nine years old -- to climb the highest mountain on every continent.

We wish you well, Jordan. In case you happen to read this, Alex and Sage both have something to say to you.

Alex: "Congratulations! It's really amazing that you're climbing your last mountain in Antarctica!"

Sage: "Happy Seventh! Congratulations!"

I'll close with my favorite Chinese Proverb:

"Those who say it can't be done should get out of the way of those doing it."

Friday, November 25, 2011

UP Now Available For Pre-order!

UP: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure is now available for pre-order! You can shop at your favorite online bookseller and reserve your copy today.

Pre-orders help a new author tremendously; the greater the number of pre-orders, the greater the industry buzz. Greater buzz usually leads to more media coverage and greater overall sales. So please help a new author out and preorder -- many thanks!

Also -- feel free to leave comments in UP's "discussion" section if the bookselling site has one. Discussions, along with pre-orders, help generate buzz. Later, once you've read the book, please also leave a review.

Again -- many, many thanks for your help. Exciting times!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!

We're on vacation until Tuesday the 29th. Have a great holiday weekend!

(Above image taken from

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wednesday Shout-Out: Christmas Songs

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, which, at our house at least, means the advent of the Christmas season. Bring on the songs, the lights, and the tree!

(The above is from A Charlie Brown Christmas).

In honor of the Big Red and Green Holiday, this week's shout-out goes to a site that contains all your holiday song faves: Christmas Songs. The site also includes videos, lyrics, and the history of most of the tunes.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday Trip Report: Welch-Dickey (52WAV). November 17, 2011

Welch-Dickey Loop, 4.4 miles

Now that Alex and Sage have both finished the NH4Ks, we're looking forward to exploring other, smaller, mountains. There are plenty of gorgeous peaks that aren't on the 4000-Footer list, and we plan on hiking quite a few of them over the coming years. We'll revisit the 4Ks often, of course -- especially this winter, when Alex continues her quest for the winter 4Ks. For now, however, we're going to check out a few 52 With a View (52WAV) summits.

We ascended Welch and Dickey on a beautiful day. We had clear skies and comfortably crisp autumn temperatures. As a bonus, we did NOT have get up at the crack of dawn, as these two mountains stand fairly close to our home.

It's hunting season, which means everyone -- even Max -- had to wear an orange vest.

The water crossing wasn't an issue.

We went up the rock steps...

...through the gorgeous woods...

...and into the "don't step on the vegetation" zone.

We arrived at the first viewing ledges...

...and enjoyed the scenery.

The summit of Welch...

One has to climb up some slabs to get there...

Views on the way up...

A teensy bit of rock scrambling...

The summit itself!

This part of the summit makes me think of a big eagle's nest.

Alex dwarfed by the massive slab...

Views of Dickey's ledges...

The temperature fell about ten degrees during the fifteen minutes we were lounging about. I bundled us up and moved us on when I noticed the sky turning grey.

Down we went toward the col...

We stopped to take a picture of the big 'ole cairn...

Back into the woods...

Going up once more (that's Welch in the background)...

On Dickey!

The temperature was plummeting, so we kept moving down Dickey's many ledges.

The trail goes along the very top of this, on the edge to the right. I imagine this is tricky to descend in rain or on ice. Falling to the left means reaching the bottom of the mountain a little faster than you'd like...

We were back in the woods in short order.

This was a nice, easy jaunt; there's a lot of bang for the buck on this one. If you're looking for a three to four hour hike with outstanding views and fun ledge scrambles, then this is the hike for you. Just be sure to do it in dry weather.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Monday Muse: Thanksgiving Edition

Thanksgiving arrives this week. In honor of the holiday, I'm celebrating my complaints.

My car is 165,000 miles old, neither of the front locks work (we get in by crawling through the trunk -- seriously), and last summer a bottle of sunblock exploded on the top of the roof, leaving permanent marks that look like bird crap.

My car runs like new, is fully paid off, and has never let me down.

I'm ten pounds heavier than I was two years ago, and I can't seem to get the extra weight off, in spite of all the hiking and walking and salad picking.

My family has plenty of food and we do not need to worry about where our next meal is coming from. I am healthy and able to do the outdoor activities I love. I am strong enough to carry gear for both girls, the dog, and myself on 18 mile mountain spite of my growing spare tire.

I can't cook worth a damn; anything that goes into the oven comes out either burnt or partially cooked.

The girls are happy with whatever I can manage to make, they are well-fed and strong, and they are both joyfully learning how to cook on their own (perhaps out of a sense of self-preservation...).

My border terrier has no sense of recall and probably never will (it's a breed thing). He will therefore always be on a leash when outside.

His chances of tangling with dangerous wildlife, getting lost, or being hit by a car are zero.

The girls and I never have enough time to do everything we want to do.

Our lives are interesting and full, and the words "I'm bored" have never left either of my girls' lips.

We do not have the money for expensive or trendy presents.

We have enough for what we need and, with very careful planning and a willingness to utilize campgrounds instead of hotels, we have enough to travel.

I haven't gone clothes shopping for myself in months, and my pre-child, fashionable wardrobe has been replaced by stereotypical Momwear (elastic waistbands, anyone?).

I have all the clothes I need to keep me warm and dry.

This week I'll join the other zillion people on the road and sit in traffic for multiple hours to get to where I want to go for the holidays.

Both my parents are healthy and doing well, and their doors are always open to me (not just on Thanksgiving).

I could go on, but you get the idea.

Your turn.

Each and every time you complain this week, acknowledge the flip side...and be thankful.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Wrap

Oops...stayed up late finishing the first draft of my current work-in-progress and am therefore tardy on posting this week's Wrap.

Our week in quick review:

The above is this week's big news -- I finished the first draft of a new manuscript. It is FAR from being ready to submit, though; my agent hasn't even seen this yet. I hope to have it completely polished and ready for her sharp eyes and honest critique by the time UP hits the shelves. It should be noted that I've no automatic green light with a new manuscript just because Broadway Books is publishing UP; one publication does not guarantee another. Regardless of what ultimately happens with this, however, finishing the first draft of a new 85,000 word manuscript feels wonderful.

Galleys for UP will be in by the end of this month, then they'll be sent to reviewers nationwide. Can't wait!

The girls and I hiked Welch-Dickey on Thursday. I'll post a trip report next week.

We came up with the first half of our 101 Things in 101 Thursdays list; we look forward to the new adventures.

I bought a gazillion novels and joined a few Goodreads book clubs.

And...that's it (for now, anyway). Have a good weekend, everyone.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

101 Things in 202 Thursdays: The List (Part One)

Again, many thanks to Marcy at (Don't Be) Too Timid and Squeamish for the idea. This list is a variation of her 101 Things in 1001 Days.

This list represents dreams, hopes, curiosities, and responsibilities. The girls and I each contributed to this list; some of these ideas are Sage's, some are Alex's, and others are mine. Each of us will attempt to do every one of these things during the next four years. We'll report our progress on this blog every Thursday beginning December 2, 2011.

Here are the first 50 things, in no particular order.

1. Draw or paint a landscape.

2. Walk on the Great Wall of China.

3. Create something and sell it.

4. Night hike a New Hampshire Four Thousand Footer.

5. Gently capture a live spider and put it outside (the girls are facing their fears on this one).

6. Balance something (soft) on our dog's head for ten seconds (this could take all four years to accomplish...our dog never stays still).

7. Camp by a lake in Canada.

8. Go to a Broadway show (and have excellent seats!).

9. Organize a walk for charity.

10. Volunteer in a cat shelter.

11. Go sledding in the rain.

12. Make a cast out of a wild animal's footprint.

13. Go Christmas caroling.

14. Visit Prince Edward Island (we just finished reading Anne of Green Gables).

15. Volunteer at a homeless shelter.

16. Build and sleep in an igloo.

17. Visit Italy (Rome and Venice).

18. For one full day, eat only fruit.

19. Try all the types of cheese in the local grocery store.

20. Take a cruise.

21. Volunteer in a retirement community.

22. Enter a cake-baking contest.

23. Spend one day at each ski resort in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

24. Go to the top of the Empire State Building (the girls just watched King Kong).

25. Read all the books in our house (and weed through them!).

26. Finish highpointing all the states except Alaska, Washington and Oregon.

27. Have a dinner party once a month and invite friends.

28. Create an original dessert for a special occasion.

29. Finish every science/building kit in the house (and weed through them!).

30. Find a four leaf clover.

31. Watch all the educational DVDs in the house (and weed through them!).

32. Sleep in ten backcountry shelters.

33. Complete a hut to hut White Mountain traverse.

34. Attend a religious service at five significantly different places of worship (for educational purposes).

35. Create our own hiking list, name it, and create an appropriate patch.

36. Name our house and put the name on an original, hand-carved sign.

37. Cut down our own Christmas tree.

38. Visit Niagara Falls.

39. Start to seriously plan a hike of Kilimanjaro.

40. Be a street performer for a day.

41. Finish another established New Hampshire hiking list (52 With a View for Sage, Trailwrights for Alex (in addition to the winter 4Ks), I guess both 52 With a View and Trailwrights for me).

42. Find a rare plant or animal and take its picture.

43. Put $0.25 in every parking meter in the main shopping area of Plymouth, NH.

44. Participate in Seek the Peak -- in costume.

45. Design our own t-shirts.

46. Play every board and card game in the house (and weed through them!).

47. Visit five of the Ingalls Wilder sites (thanks to Kerri of Goodreads for the suggestion!).

48. Make cardboard swords and shields.

49. Paint and decorate glass bottles.

50. Tour a working chocolate factory.

I'll post the remaining 51 after Thanksgiving.

The girls and I look forward to tackling our new goals!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wednesday Shout-Out: Goodreads

I love this site. I was referred to it by Jonathan Lazzara at Crown, who thought it would be a good idea for me to set up a Goodreads Author account. He was right, and I have -- but that's not the reason for my enthusiasm.

Reading for pleasure is a luxury I (temporarily) lost long ago. Homeschooling mothers rarely have time to spare; my reading material for the past eight years has therefore largely consisted of children's classics. Our shelves are full of A.A. Milne, Beatrix Potter, Dr. Suess, Laura Ingalls Wilder, L.M. get the idea. Every once in a while, I'd sneak in a popular novel or political biography after the kids had gone to bed, but, for the most part, I simply haven't had the time.

Joining Goodreads fixed all that. I've spent the last couple of weeks perusing the large number of discussion groups; there are so many! Whatever your favorite book/genre/author/topic, Goodreads has at least a few discussion groups about it. I chose a few that suited my interests and joined the conversations, and I'm having a blast. Furthermore, my days are now rescheduled so I always have time to read for pleasure. I can't believe it took me so long to join or to get myself back into the wonderful habit of reading for fun.

If you like books, then join Goodreads. Truly wish I had discovered this site long ago.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesday Trip Report: MADE IN ICELAND by Klara Harden

The girls and I didn't hike last weekend. After finishing the NH48, Sage decided she wanted to take a brief hiatus. We'll be back on the trails in a day or two.

In the meantime, here's a link to a fantastic video by Klara Harden. Harden hiked solo in Iceland last summer for 25 days, and she taped the entire experience. This is a beautiful piece of work. Lovely, just lovely. You might even be moved to tears.

MADE IN ICELAND by Klara Harden.

Good stuff. Very, very good stuff.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Friday Wrap: Sage Finishes the NH48...Galleys...Weekend Plans...

First of all -- Happy Veteran's Day! A huge thank you to all the brave men and women who have served/continue to serve our country. We are forever in your debt.

This week's wrap:

Sage finished the NH48 last Sunday. We're so proud of her! Thanks again to all the people who sent messages and emails of support. Thanks also to MadRiver, DaveBear, Thor, Happy Hiker, Tim C, Mike, Sandy, Kyle, Kayla, and, of course, Alex and Hugh for making the day extra-special.

Galleys will soon be ready! In a few weeks, UP will be sent to reviewers all over the country.

Our weekend plans include....actually, I've no idea. We've no hikes in the works until after Thanksgiving! What on earth are we going to do with ourselves...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday Book News: Publicity/Marketing Plans

We'll have galleys, the bound, prepublication versions of UP, by the end of this month. My publisher will send these galleys to newspapers, magazines, and television/radio stations across the country. As the time draws closer to publication, galleys will also be sent to prominent bloggers and book clubs. By the time April 3, 2012 rolls around, my publicity team will have reached out to all national and local media.

The one thing that won't happen, which I absolutely agree with, is a major book tour. These days, most publishers do not send new authors on book tours. A signing or two in the author's geographical region is worthwhile, but a huge plan full of dates doesn't make any sense. Few people will attend a book signing if they don't already know the author, and, usually, not enough books are sold at such venues to cover the cost of booking the event in the first place. Therefore, we will have only two bookstore events/signings -- one in the Whites and one in the Somerville/Cambridge area. I'll soon announce details as to where and what time.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wednesday Shout-Out: Homeschooling Freethinkers

We're homeschoolers. This does not mean we're religious. I've nothing against religion in general, but we don't fit neatly into any one spiritual category. I'm a scientist by training with a solid background in evolutionary theory and biology so, needless to say, creationism is not a part of our belief system.

We're not the only secular homeschoolers out there. A good portion of homeschoolers do NOT stay out of traditional schools for religious reasons. However, many homeschooling materials are designed for conservative Christian families, and it can be difficult to tell whether or not you're ordering something that claims the earth is only six to ten thousand years old.

Enter Homeschooling Freethinkers. Now you don't have to guess what you're getting -- Homeschooling Freethinkers screens the resources for you. Books and materials are listed and tagged as secular or religious. Some materials aren't so clear-cut, so the website makes appropriate notes wherever applicable.

This is a huge time saver. I plan to visit this site often over the coming years. I don't want to spend hours of my time trying to figure out whether or not a chemistry curriculum is ever going to explain carbon dating. Conversely, a Christian homeschooler might want to avoid all texts that mention evolution. Homeschooling Freethinkers provides such information.

Excellent. Both religious and secular homeschoolers should have what they each feel they need to optimally educate their own, specific children. Choices are good things to have.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday Trip Report: Sage Finishes the NH48 on the Tripyramids. November 6, 2011

Livermore Trail, Scaur Ridge Trail, Pine Bend Trail, Tripyramid Trail.

About 12 miles roundtrip, 3000 feet of elevation gain.

Sage's 48th 4K!

First, a huge thank you to all the people who sent emails of congratulations and messages of support. Sage was overwhelmed by all the good wishes. :)

Now for the trip report --

Joining us on this happy occasion were Happy Hiker, MadRiver, Tim C, DaveBear, Mike, Thor, and, of course, Hugh and Alex.

We set off on the Livermore Trail in fine spirits.

Along the way, Alex played with Thor...

Looks like Irene took a bit of a toll...

Breaking for a snack...

Heading up the Scaur Ridge Trail...

The intersection with Pine Bend Trail...

Going up...

On the summit of North Tripyramid, 4K #47.

On the actual high point...

Snack time...

Happy Hiker brought Munchkins (yum!)...

Heading down to the col between the peaks...

Heading back up...

Add Image

Sage pauses to gaze upon Mount Tecumseh, her first 4K. She ascended Tecumseh in February 2010, at the age of four.

The group makes the traditional final summit archway...

Here she comes...

...and there she is, on the summit of Middle Tripyramid, her final 4K!

Views from the top...

Snack break at the viewpoint...

An intense argument broke out over which peak was which...

The boys resolved it somehow...(someone please give me a caption for the below photograph!)...

DaveBear enjoys the day...

After consuming vast amounts of chocolate and munchkins, we headed down. Sage and Alex introduced Hugh to the art of buttsliding...

Returning to the Livermore Trail...

On the way out, Alex slayed the Invisible Yeti...

The girls were extremely energetic on the return and ran most of the final mile...

Beautiful moonrise...

Almost there!

Finished. :)

Our friend Sandy was waiting at the trailhead with her kids, Kyle and Kayla.

Happy Hiker looking happy...

MadRiver gave Sage her NH48 patch...

Proud Papa...

Party time!

Thanks again to everyone for making Sage's finish a special event.

Funny, when Alex finished the NH48, I had the strange feeling that her last 4K might be "it." Meaning, I didn't want to assume that she'd keep hiking or that Sage would follow in her footsteps. For this hike, Sage's finish, I'd no such feeling. Both girls have made it clear that they will continue to hike. Both want to keep highpointing. Both want to explore many more slides and rock scrambles. Alex wants to finish the winter list. Sage wants to do a specific kind of hike that we'll announce later. This hike was a milestone, but it was in no way a "finish" in the literal sense of the word.

Onward, upward.

Again, to the many hiking and nonhiking communities who have been so supportive and kind -- thank you, thank you, thank you.

See you on the trails...and, in April, on the literal and virtual bookshelves.