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|July 13, 2021 Post 127|
“What’s your next book going to be about?” a book buyer asked me recently as I signed a copy of “A Natural History of Lake Ontario” for him. At this point I have no idea. But I’m betting there will be at least one more.
Twenty five years ago I launched a career in self publishing with “Ariel’s World, An Exploration of Lake Ontario”. My presumption was that this effort to provide an overview of Lake Ontario’s ecology and regional history as seen from the deck of a small sailboat was different and therefor of interest. I printed 1500 copies, and it sold well. A few years after it was out of print, I heard from a reader that he had seen a second hand copy priced at forty dollars! It was also used as a resource in a college level seminar on Lake Ontario at SUNY Oswego.
Emboldened by its success, I went on to self publish more books under the ISBN id of Whiskey Hill Press including a short 96 pager with the awkward title “Mirages, Monsters Myths and Mysteries of Lake Ontario”. They dealt with maritime history, the lake’s environment and included a historic fiction novel and an experimental mix of fact and fancy with talking cats that learned about actual ecology from other talking animals and birds. I never thought back in 1995 that I would eventually produce ten books of over 100 pages each plus four shorter 20 to 60 page booklets. Along the way I also assisted a couple of self publishing efforts with collating and ghost writing.
My most recent work, “A Natural History of Lake Ontario” my third title published by Arcadia Press, a “real” publisher, revisited the south shore beaches described in The Edge Walker’s Guide. Stones are very cooperative subjects for the writer and photographer as they pose so nicely for their portraits. And south shore lake pebbles with their variability of color and shape sometimes do tell a memorable story if you know enough to listen thanks to their varied origins.
I think even people who don’t (pardon the pun) dig into the topic of earth science sense the different histories of these water rounded bits of earth’s bones. Artisans feel compelled to enhance beach pebbles with painted on colors and scenes. Or they write slogans and symbols as they try to express a stone story. But even without this embellishment, each stone, like those who admire it, has its own unique history.
A couple weeks ago while walking upon a beautiful wild shoreline on Lake Champlain before we loaded up the boat to trailer home, my husband picked up a small gray pebble in the form of a heart. He smiled as he showed it to me. It felt like message as we stood together by the crystal clear cold shallows of an almost great lake on the last day of what had been a splendid cruise with our little yacht.
There’s a slogan out there “Love Your Greats” intended to make people more aware of the marvel that is the Great Lakes ecosystem. Did that beach pebble suggest the essential need for all of us to love the world that has given us life? We can’t live without water. Or love.
I don’t know how many more books I have in me- I certainly never expected to produce ( and sell!) as many as I have. But stay tuned. There may be another venture with Widow Mollie in the near future.