Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sand in Our Shoes . . .

From Disaster Status:

The morning breeze smelled of seaweed, hosed asphalt, cotton candy and popcorn. Screeches from gulls blended with other sounds: laughing children, an electronic ding-boing, pow-pow-pow from the Casino arcade, the relentless whoosh and pull of ocean waves . . . and a continuing chorus of screams from the Giant Dipper roller coaster. If Erin kept her eyes shut a moment longer, it could be 1980 and she’d be perched atop her grandfather’s shoulders, her nose sun-crinkled, feet bare and sand speckled, fingers wonderfully sticky and tongue half numb from a frozen chocolate banana. Grandy’s rumbling laugh would blend with Nana’s, and Erin would throw her head back and add her own silly giggles. She’d be back in a time when she felt secure and loved, when life was simple and honest. Without threat of betrayal, heartache, death . . . or even poisonous disaster. But Scott’s voice hauled her back to the present, as effectively as if he’d thrown her over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry.

“Always the same.” He stared up at the towering Coconut Grove Casino, its neon-embellished fa├žade freshly painted in orange, gold and fuchsia. He clucked his tongue and looked back down, gray eyes giving no clue to whether he thought sameness was something good or bad. The breeze lifted a golden thatch of his hair, and Erin caught a subtle trace of citrus cologne. “Straight to the Dipper?”

“Sure,” she agreed, pulling up the hood on her zip front vest. The chug and clatter of the giant wooden roller coaster, and even the screams, would be a welcome distraction. Being with Scott McKenna was anything but simple . . .

Want to bet if any of those sensory details came right out this author's memory? You'd win--yes. Because though this book is a work of fiction, my recollections of Santa Cruz, California--its beaches and boardwalk (even the chocolate banana)--contributed to the writing of this scene. Some experiences evoke long-lasting memories. Beaches seem to be one of those.

So in my recent newsletter I asked my readers this simple question:

"What's your favorite beach?"

And I've been delighted with the responses truly surprised at the geographic diversity of beaches:

The Carolinas (North and South), New York, Oregon, British Columbia, Hawaii (Oahu, Hilo Hawaii, Kauai) Mexico (Cancun, Cozumel, Baja) South Africa, Guam, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Texas, Connecticut, St. Maarten in the Carribean, California (North and South!). And LAKES, too: Lake Michigan, Lake Rebecca in Minnesota . . . and more--so many beaches shared!

And some of my wonderful readers shared more than the names of their favorite beaches. They, like my heroine in the Disaster Status scene above, have beach memories:

"There's something incredible about standing on the pebbled shore and looking across the frozen surface of the Lake."

". . . we were allowed to have fires on the beach . . ."

" . . . we would have a picnic with a lovely bottle of wine and watch the sunset. We have so many fantastic memories there. . . "

" . . . The Humpback whales frolic beyond the reef from December to May . . ."

" . . .we surfed with two manta rays, their big, black shadows gliding beneath us as we paddled furiously to catch the curl. . ."

". . .The sunrises in Durban over the sea are awesome . . ."

" . . . we were 'surf bunnies.' Love the boardwalk, the taffy and the old merry go round."

"Some of my best memories are on the beach with my grandpa. We would spend hours just walking the white sandy beach collecting shells . . . It was the best."

" . . . It is a peaceful place, a good place to walk, talk and relax. . ."

"I can still see the gorgeous white sand and blue water in my mind and it makes me smile."

" . . . has changed along with our family through the years, and given us a treasure chest full of precious memories."

" . . . Fresh water. No sharks. No jelly fish. No sting rays."

"I was five years old . . . made sand-angels one evening with the sun setting over the water and the white, powdery sand getting stuck in all the wrong places . . . "

"It is framed by swaying palm trees and swept with gentle trade winds . . . perfect for moonlit strolls."

And many, many more--I'm so very honored that you shared these memories with me!

And I'm excited to be sharing a book giveaway (signed copies of Disaster Status) with three of you:

I'll place all of the names from those of you who responded into my special glass bowl and draw three as winners tomorrow morning. I'll post the winning names here. Stay tuned.

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