Well we made it to the States and talk about culture shock! I’ll post about my reintroduction to the racing rats later. This post is more about a daydream I’ve been holding on to for years now.
Most of you know I’m a sailor and the ocean calls me, even from the mountains of Thailand. Actually I’ve enjoyed almost everything about living in Thailand.
I was invited—I may have given my friend a few suggestive hints—to go sailing on a boat type I’m seriously considering for my next purchase. That is if we ever get a house—that’s another post as well.
The boat is an older, well-built and ocean capable Alberg 30, Beowulf. I had never been on one and looked forward to riding along in a sailing regatta(race).
A few weeks ago I arrived at my friend’s house early and we headed for the marina to meet Captain Bob and his boat. Captain Bob looked like the consummate sailor: puka shell necklace, deep tan and a happy kind of guy. The boat looked to be everything I thought I might see. It is 40 years old and show a bit of wear and tear but sturdy, and well founded.
As we motored out to the Indian River Lagoon I could feel the weight and balance of the boat. Once out of the channel we raised the sails and made our way towards the starting line. As soon as the engine was off and the sails pulling Beowulf took to her heels. I could feel the power of her and knew that this was a boat to cross the oceans. She also let me know that I was welcomed back to the sea—what a feeling.
If for no other reason my trip back to the States has been worth it. I told my wife—gently of course—that if we didn’t find a house I would buy a boat and sail back to Thailand. I’m a bit unsure of the look she gave me. I know my first obligation—and the most important one—is to make her happy. Then comes the boat.
I’ve been away for a while and still feel like a stranger to blogging but I do hope you enjoyed this little story.
Oh. We didn’t win the race but we weren’t last either. I’m ready for blue water!
While my friend Eden was off in Jamaica having a great time in the sun and the surf we were harvesting fish from our two small ponds on the farm.
Most of the village showed up for the fun. Thais love to gather for ‘sanuk’ (fun) and enjoy the day gathering fish. The kids ran everywhere catching baby fish to take home to put in a container to raise and just laugh.
The fish in one pond were a bit small but as we are planning a trip back to the States soon we wanted to sell what we could before we leave. And New Year’s is the perfect time for this.
The men threw nets for hours. Thais don’t like to leave anything behind when they gather food. I was very surprised to see how any fish evade their efforts a few days later. I hope you can feel the fun with these pictures.
We build a small fire and cooked a number of fish fresh from the pond. This all took place during the ‘Pi Mai’ (New Year) celebration and I had a great time just watching the families.
For our New Year’s resolution I decided that Julee and I would eat only one piece of fruit for the first week of January. The picture is me—straining—to hold the jackfruit long enough to get a photo and my beautiful wife. It is from one of our trees at our little farm.
Many times I sit by my small pond to think and to watch nature. Lately I’ve had a Kingfisher come and visit, but was never able to get a picture of it. It always showed me his beautiful orange breast, but when he flies to capture a small fish he is a magnificent iridescent blue.
On Christmas day he joined me at the pond and waited until I ran back to grab my camera and then posed for a few pictures. This time he showed me his back and front. This Kingfisher is very small. Most Kingfisher I see are twice his size. Enjoy.
I rented a small house at Mexico Beach in the Florida panhandle but I towed our 26 foot sailboat down two weeks early. My family, three young children and my wife, spend over a week sailing in the Gulf of Mexico but each night we would return to the isolated tip of Cape San Blas peninsula that encloses the large St Joseph Bay to anchor. Not another boat in sight.
Our small boat was cramped for sleeping but I never heard a complaint and that in itself was a miracle with three young (pre-teen) children on board. During the day we would sail the clear, sparkling blue of the gulf or explore the coastline of the deserted peninsula. Some days we would anchor and snorkel or fish, or we would head out into the blue and enjoy being out of sight of land.
St Joseph Bay is known as a breeding ground for nurse sharks and we would swim among baby sharks without a worry. In the shallow grass beds far up in the bay we would walk in knee deep water picking up bay scallops off the sea grass like eggs in a nest. If I haven’t said before; my wife is an extraordinary cook—even on a two burner alcohol stove top.
Night was my favorite time. We were completely alone at anchor with no lights to disturb our little world. The Milky Way lay across the sky like a belt of diamonds. The water would glow like shooting stars as larger fish streaked by in search of food. But what I enjoyed the most were the dolphins. I think we found a resting place they used to take a break from their endless travels. We would sit in the cockpit in total darkness and listen to these amazing mammals as they would come lazily to the surface beside our boat and to breathe. The dolphins didn’t chatter at night so hearing them blow and feel the mist of their breath was magical for us all. It is a moment one could never forget.
During the day dolphins would ride the bow wave and if we were quite we could hear their chitters and cheeps through the hull of our boat. The kids loved to stand in the pulpit—the bow of the sailboat—and look down on them. The dolphins would turn on their sides and look up at the children and the kids would run back to the cockpit and say, “Dad, they were looking at us!”
Those were days my family will never forget. As my mind turns to the sea again I may post more about sailing far from land or the two years I spent in the Marshall Islands. I hope you enjoyed this little interlude.
I don’t have any digital images of our trips but it is something I must attend to. I do have one shot of my wife, oldest son and me enjoying a day fishing—back when we were all very young.
I try not to blow my own writing horn too much but I’ve been receiving some very good for my heart reviews! I’ve selected 5 from professional reviewers and hope you will take the time to see what makes me smile. These reviews won’t show up on Amazon (except on my author’s page)– I really don’t understand why, because each reviewer bought their own copy of the book. They do show up at Goodreads and other sites along with several other great reviews.
I would normally cut the reviews to just a quick blurb but they’re just too good to cut up. I hope you’ll retweet, and tell your friends about my latest book Death’s Door and maybe give it a go yourself.
Barnes and Noble
Well-written and with a complex, multilayered and compelling plot, Death’s Door by Dannie Hill is one of the finer books I have read this year. I could see this book sitting in a bookstore beside Tom Clancy or David Balducci and holding its own quite nicely. The plot unfolded at an even tempo, culminating in a breathtaking, heart pounding climax that had me reading the last 1/3 or so of the book as fast as I could. I did not want to stop, but I was happy with the ending. I generally try and point out the positive and negative in reviews, but I honestly cannot think of anything in this book that I did not like. Even the editing was flawless. Definitely recommend with highest praise!! (5 stars). J.T. Thomas; GoodReads, Barnes&Noble, Librarything, Shelfari
“Death’s Door” by Dannie Hill is an east-meets-west thriller in which the main characters, Bill and Dell, enter a dark and dangerous world as they try and stop a terrorist attack. The story moves from the US, to the Middle East, and back again, and we are shown an impressively accurate portrait of the two contrasting worlds. I liked that the author resisted falling into overplayed stereotypes, and instead treated all of the characters like human beings. Even though there was plenty of action and danger and high stakes, there were also relationships that gave the characters a relatable humanity. I loved watching Bill and Fatima’s relationship unfold, and thought it felt very natural. It also gave this novel more dimension, and more emotional investment than had it just been focused solely on the terrorists with the dirty bomb. I highly recommend this for fans of thrillers and political intrigue. (5 stars). Karen Matthews; GoodReads, Barnes&Noble, Librarything, Shelfari
Wow, what an amazing story! This is the first book I’ve read by Dannie Hill but I am sure it won’t be the last. Some people just know how to write and Mr. Hill is one of them. This book was excellent, not just for a self/indie pubbed book, but for any book. The prose was vivid, strong, and pulled me into the story right from the beginning. The author did a wonderful job of “showing” us the world he created, instead of just ‘telling’ to us. I felt like I was a part of the action from the get go, and the characters all felt so real and alive. They each had such distinctive “voices”, especially Fatima, but really all of them. The pacing was good and I was never bored or confused. Only the tiniest thing was that I thought the ending felt kind of abrupt, but maybe I just wasn’t ready for it to be over just yet. (5 stars). Nicole Hastings; GoodReads, Barnes&Noble, Librarything, Shelfari
I won’t recap the plot (you can read that in the description), just know that it doesn’t do this novel justice! There is so much that happens, and it is told is such a way that you won’t want to stop reading until the story is over. There is action, a terrorist plot, sex and romance, danger, a trip to the Middle East, and so on. But what I think was the best was the way that the different plots managed to mesh together and create an unputdownable story. I thought the middle dragged a bit compared to the beginning and the end, but it was okay because it was just developing different storylines. It just didn’t have the tension as the other parts of the novel, but was still interesting. The last quarter or so of the book I couldn’t stop reading it was so intense! Overall I’d say I really liked it. (4 stars). Cale Owens
I read this book in one night and am already interested in reading more from Mr. Hill. His writing is smooth and natural, always moving forward (very little back story and only when necessary), and he packs an emotional punch in almost every scene…too many to mention, but my favorites were when Bill was recovering from the scorpion stings and what Fatima did, the story of Dell losing his brother, and when Loretta’s kids were being held hostage with her. There was some powerful writing that delivered so much more to the story and the characters’ development, which is something I really look for in a good book. I hate one dimensional characters who show no change or growth, but there was none of that here. Interesting for a thriller/action novel where the focus is usually on the external conflicts, not the internal. The details and the descriptions were perfect, enough to paint the scene perfectly, but not overkill to slow down the story at all. A very impressive read and one I’d recommend to my friends and family. (5 stars). Cory Banyon
Can you feel my smile and love for readers?
I’ve accepted a challenge from Karen at Karensdifferentcorners and it came at a perfect time for me. I needed a push to make my fingers and mind work together again. The challenge is to write a short story or scene as Dialog only, Description only and A combination of both. It’s a very interesting way to practice different disciplines.
Forgive me if I’m a bit rusty, but this practice has made me smile. Please enjoy and comment—good or bad, lol. Thank you, Karen- what a great exercise!
If I have to pick a title for this scene—Afternoon Delight
Image from freestock at Dreamstime
“Sirilak, why do you work so hard?”
“Soon the dry season will be here and the baby will come in a month. We must have enough food for our family, Anan. Don’t worry, I rest often.”
“You must let me help. I’ve finished the new room for our first born.”
“You are such a good husband. My life would be so hard without you.”
“Ha. Is this what you call an easy life? It is I who is lucky to be the husband of such a beautiful woman. You will be the best mother to our son.”
“You are so sure our child will be a boy. I think a girl would be auspicious and there will be more children. You are energetic in your work.”
“Hush woman. What if our neighbors hear you speak so openly about our private life.”
“The women would be jealous and the men might try harder to please their wives. But I will keep my voice low because I don’t want one of the ladies to try and find out for themselves.”
“I’m hungry. It’s time to do your other wifely duties!”
“That was the best fish soup I’ve ever had and you… I enjoy the way you look while you carry our child.”
“Stop that, Anan. When you touch me so I forget that I look like an elephant and it is hours before dark. I don’t want you to see the fat woman I am now.”
“Sirilak, you’re not fat. You are the essence of beauty. Perhaps a special dessert will put me in the mood to help you in the garden. After all the sun is too hot for you to do any hard work now.”
“My love. I will help you prepare the dessert.”
Anan stood in the shade of a tamarind tree watching Sirilak, his wife, working in the garden. Her tiny body had grown so big with the coming of their first child he worried that she might do them both harm working in the burning sun. He knew his words must be gentle as he looked on, filled with the love for his woman. She worried about the coming dry season and the extra mouth that would have to be fed.
They had only a small plot of land but every centimeter was used to their benefit. He still watched in wonder at how the most beautiful girl of their village had picked him for her husband.
Anan walked out in the field and began to work alongside Sirilak and nudged her a bit just to have her look at him. He loved looking in her dark depthless eyes that shown so bright when they turn to him. She smiled as he rubbed his stomach, indicating his hunger.
Sirilak’s laughter filled him with joy. She rose and pulled him to his feet and then propelled him toward the house. She looked with pride at the new room that he had just finished. Her choice of Anan as her husband was helped by her grandmother. Love had blossomed from the very first day and she said her special prayer of thanks for selecting the perfect man.
He reached out to rub her heavy belly and bent to kiss her, but she pushed him away and then looked around to be sure the neighbors had not been watching. He reached for her again, but she slapped his hand and held up a finger as she waddled faster to the house.
Sirilak watched him eat as if there would be no more food for the evening meal and laughed.
Anan felt his heart flutter at the thrill of her laughter and reached out for her. This time she came willingly and purred at his touch.
There would be a special dessert as she pulled him toward their sleep area.
Dialog and description:
The sun’s rays shimmered off the ground as Anan watched his wife from the shadows of a nearby tamarind tree. He walked out in the field and said, “Sirilak. You shouldn’t be out in this sun. You must think of our child growing within you.”
“It is our child that I am thinking of. We must be ready for the dry season. I feel fine and you’ve been working so hard on the new room. You can’t do all the work! What kind of wife would I be to sit while there is work to be done?” She sat back, wiping the sweat from her brow and gazed up at the man she loved. He was so strong and fit, but even in her condition she wouldn’t allow him to coddle her. It wasn’t her way or the way of the village.
Anan lifted her to her feet and placed a loving hand on her swollen belly and tried to sneak a kiss, but she pushed him away with a laugh. “Are you worried about what the neighbors might say? I will tell them I am kissing my son through my wife.”
“Always so sure our little one will be a boy. I would think a girl will bring good fortune to our house… besides, with all your attention our family will be large.” The look on his face caused her to laugh and hug his arm. “Not that I’m complaining, my love. You fill me with love when you touch me.”
“I have married a wanton woman,” he said with a smile that stretched across his face. “I need my wife to feed her man so he will have the energy to try and satisfy her needs.” He gave her a nudge towards the house and then reached for her again but only caught the sweet tinkle of her laughter.
Anan settle back in his chair with a full belly and as he always did when he turned his eyes on Sirilak he gave thanks for his luck and her love. As she moved to clear the table he reached out and pulled her to his lap. She did not resist and purred as he hand rubbed her swollen belly and kissed her neck. He knew just the spot that would make her want more.
She stood and pulled him to his feet, pressing her body to him. “I think a special dessert shall be your reward for loving me, husband.”
I hope you enjoyed these different styles. It’s good practice for any writer to stay within a discipline to see where one may need some additional practice.
I’m supposed to pick three more people to continue this contest, but what I’ve decided is: If anyone wishes to join in, please do. I really would enjoy seeing what other writers come up with. Try to go outside your normal style. Since I’m a genre hopper it didn’t work well for me.
Post your writing at your web site and then post the link in the comments on this post and at Karen’s site. I look forward to some good reading.