Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Return From the Isle Du Castor--BEAVER ISLAND!

What an amazing trip it was.Sunny, warm and beautiful--the people of Beaver Island, and the weather too.

After camping overnight at Fisherman's Island State Park and getting up at the crack of dawn, I packed my tent in a rush. The mosquitoes and I ate breakfast in the Jeep and I washed my hair with a water bottle. Did I mention that the park is a rustic camp? One of the best! You have to pump water by hand, walk the shore for Petoskey stones and unfortunately listen to the gravel plant nearby at night. But the sound does lull you to sleep.

I got to the boat dock and from there on it was a scramble. Unload, repack, unhitch bike, hitch luggage cart, buy the ticket, park the Jeep, come back from the parking lot a mile away and board the boat. Whew!
Once aboard I immersed myself in my sketchbook working on Book 4. I know, I know. But I had seen the Charlevoix bridge raise before and watched people wave--eleven years ago! I think I was a bit nervous with my solo journey ahead and having to time everything just so--a library program to give, art show to set up for and an author panel talk all in the next day.

St. James Bay
But after chatting for 2.5 hours with a lovely gentlemen and his family (on the Beaver Islander and not the Emerald Isle boat) we arrived to the island. A boat with waving, shouting passengers skipped past us as a biplane buzzed over us with a stream of smoke. Quite the fanfare! They must have know I was arriving!
Beaver Island Community Center
I got off at the dock to the usual hustle and bustle of baggage and people scrambling and hugging. I saw my bike wheeled out and then my cart. I knew NO ONE on the island. NO ONE was there to meet me. Gulp times ten! OK, maybe the plane and boat show was not for me. So I pushed and pedaled my way to a corner of the boat lot so my gear would not make a return trip to the mainland. After hopping into the Beaver Island Chamber of Commerce Office I put in a call to Patrick McGinnity, the island's new librarian.

Patrick was there in a heartbeat. I had oodles of luggage and we dropped all of that helter skelter into his small car and car seats--with the cart hanging out back! It was comforting to see that he looked like a relative of mine--my nephew. So I felt at ease right away. Patrick is a red-head. I have red-headed kids, grandkid and nephews so he became my family right then and there.

This week was the island's annual celebration of Museum Week. The subject of my first HOLLY WILD book. And for me to be participating in this week long hooplah was beyond amazing. To think that the story I wrote about in Bamboozled on Beaver Island was eleven years old astounded me. But even more, the fact that I had not actually participated in the book's Museum Week story and I was now was hilarious!

I met so many wonderful people, young and old. Maureen Keating, a Notre Dame intern whom I shared the house with and Rod Navvrick who escorted around the island giving us facts and history. So many super artists and authors, Lois at the Beaver Island Art Studio in town and Dan Hendrix who wrote The King's Daughter to name a few.

Many, many thanks go out to Sue Thomson of Livingstone Studio, Patrick McGinnity and his adorable family, and Bill Cashman of the island's Print Shop. I felt immediately swept up into the island arms and fell into island time. They are one big, caring family and I am grateful that I was there to experience that. The island is a treasure to be cherished. It's more than the land--its the people there.

Thanks to the Damstras, the Archipelago Builders' House was my HQ

Beaver Island District Library program. I took the kids out front for a Scavenger Hunt
The Mueum Week Reading GeEK art that the kids and I made. It takes an island!

I had a loon fly over calling, super Pub food, Daddy Frank fare and a blast meeting so many fine folk.
Before I had to leave the island I was invited on an impromptu trip to see Fairy Rock, where it is said that faeries dance. When I came to the island eleven years ago, I came in search and study of the mysterious Stone Circle as well as beginning the writing of LISSY-LOST! (which was published in 2003).
What I came away with from Beaver Island was the HOLLY WILD story and series and new friends.
Fox Lake! I had never visited the lake but yet wrote about it in the book. I chose Fox Lake for the events in the story because it was closer to everything else going on. The real lake where the real story happened (finding the mysterious creepy arm/snake thing) was Lake Genesrath at the south end of the island. Fox Lake looked as I had imagined it. There were even "beaver pencils" and a trail that I wrote about! 

Sad to pack and go. The visit too quick, but I will return!

AND I WILL RETURN!! For next June I am presenting an Island Illustration Adventure 4-DayWorkshop.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

News and More News!



  • News flash! "Wise Sydney" has been released and is featured at MeeGenius.com this week! Written by Courtney Strimel and illustrated by Lori Taylor, ME! I will be working on another MeeGenius title this late August.

  • Heading to Beaver Island for none other than MUSEUM WEEK! Tuesday, July 16th I hit the shores of Lake Michigan's Beaver Island. Doing a library program in the awesome times ten Beaver Island District Library on the 17th and also selling and signing books at Gregg Hall in St. James Bay for the Museum Week Art Show the 17, 18, and 19th. 
  • Taking a long, long, long time for this big, big book about a big, big place! HOLLY WILD: Packing for the PORKIES! (Book 3) is moving along to make it fantastic. I have hopes for it to be released in August, but I will be happy with getting it put together and sent to the printer in August at this point. The Beaver Island trip has put a temporary kink in things. Then the Bear Track Studios/Press team heads out west to Theodore Roosevelt National Park for vaca in early to mid-August--that should be a rip roaring, rooting-tootin' time!