Wednesday, April 4, 2007


"Let's go kayaking," said my sister. We were in Ft. Meyers, Florida, in my niece's very comfortable house and I hadn't done any stitching since the bookmark I finished on the flight down. The lanai overlooks the eighth tee of a golf course, and cranes and herons float by all day long overhead. I wanted to sit out there and finish a bookmark. Plus, isn't kayaking the sort of thing you do in whitewater rivers or on stormy oceans? I was pretty sure I wasn't up to that. But Dolores was absolutely sure I should go. I am not the bold adventurer I used to be, but with considerable trepidation, I agreed. We ate lunch at the Hungry Heron on Sanibel Island, visited a needlework shop in the same strip mall, then went to Tarpon Bay – which is a very shallow piece of water, nearly as smooth as a mirror. We rented a two-person kayak which was surprisingly comfortable, considering you sit flat on the bottom, and practiced using the odd oars, the kind with a paddle at both ends. We crossed the bay and went up a half-hidden stream edged with tangles of mangrove, where gray and white herons perched on low branches looking for minnows. It was very pleasant. The management wisely put numbered poles all along the stream, as there are endless byways and side passages in which you could wander lost for weeks. It being a weekday, there weren't a great many others in there with us and it became very quiet at times. I am so glad Dolores encouraged me to try it, though once upon a time I would have been disappointed in the tameness of that outing.
I discovered Cuban cuisine in Naples, where we went next day to visit another niece. It is delicious, and very different from Mexican food – I was surprised at how different. Not hot, not highly spiced.
Did you know you can drive from Ft. Meyers to Milwaukee in two days? Two LONG days, but still. Dolores is great company, we laughed and talked and laughed some more the whole time.
I came home to Minneapolis with a sunburned nose, and it's snowing outside as I write this. We live in a HUGE country. If we had this much territory scattered in pieces all over the world, we'd be an empire. It's nice that we can have tropics and northwoods, snow and heat, and two oceans, all in the same country. You can pick your climate without needing a passport.
I gave a talk yesterday to a senior women's book club. I have done this sort of thing long enough that I now have a speaker's fee. I encourage all you writers who aren't doing this sort of thing to give it a try. It's good to meet the people who read your books, find out what they like (and don't like!) about your stories and characters. It encourages sales. And it's a nice little bonus between checks from your publisher. I started out talking for free at public libraries but soon got so many invitations I had to turn some down. Now, when I get too many invitations, I just raise my speaker's fee. It isn't remotely comparable to really famous people's fees, but it's nice to know you can earn money this way, too. I bring a couple of patterns stitched from the backs of my books to show off, and home made bookmarks to give away. I have two speaches, both humorous. One is about how I got into writing needlework mysteries without knowing a whole lot about needlework. The other is how to plot, write and sell a mystery novel. ("Remember 'lethal dose' is the amount of poison it takes to kill half the people who take it. Sometimes it's fun to disappoint your would-be murderer.")


Monica Ferris said...

I should say I *nearly* finished the bookmark on the flight down. Durn, I hate it when I don't edit properly -- my excuse is that it's early in the morning!

Linda O. Johnston said...

I'm off to give a talk at a library later, Monica, and I like what you said about a speaker's fee--which I usually don't charge. I tend to overdo the speaking events, especially this month, it seems, but I chalk it up to letting as many people as possible learn about my Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mystery series!

Lesa said...

Now, Monica.

You won't ever get invited to speak in Ft. Myers, FL until you learn to spell it. (grin) As someone who lived there for 18 years, that's what bothered us most - people who couldn't spell Ft. Myers. But, you're in good company. I've seen it spelled Ft. Meyers on the back of trucks. Wouldn't you think they'd know how to spell it if they were based there?

Monica Ferris said...

I've been sending mail addressed to "Ft. Meyers," and no one has said anything -- not the post office or the recipients! Wow! But I guess you learn something every single day. Thanks!