Pics from Pompeii

Just returned from a local-color and fact-gathering weeklong trip to Pompeii for the book I’ve been working on. I’ve been wanting to go for a while now and the stars finally aligned. It was extraordinary to walk on the ancient paving stones and to see the places I’ve spent the past year, on and off, reading and writing about. Travel time from Minneapolis was about 20 hours and the jet lag weighed me down a bit, but I returned having met some great people — Italians and co-travelers from Britain, New Zealand, Spain, and California, not to mention our trusty tour leader Tony O’Connor, who patiently answered all my questions about what life in ancient Pompeii might have been like — and with a camera full of photos and some good notes.

Here is a picture of me in the Forum, with a notepad, camera, hat, backpack, and shades:

Venus in a shell
HAVE = Welcome
Villa Oplontis

Floor mosaic with geometric design.
Vesuvius, framed between two pine trees. 

The picture below was taken from Vesuvius looking in the direction of Naples, though it’s hard to get a sense of scale. To get to the summit, you take a local bus for a somewhat hair-raising drive up a narrow two-way road with blind curve upon blind curve, followed by a walk up to the crater on a steep gravelly road. The views are well worth it. We thought we saw a bit of steam drift up from the crater and smelled sulfur at one point, after which we had to rush downhill so as not to miss our bus.

I even took an afternoon off to relax by the hotel pool, with its cliff-top views of the bay and lemon trees for shade, and sat in a lounge chair doing light edits of the manuscript. Writing is hard work.


View from hotel in Vico Equense. That’s Vesuvius across the bay.

A duck. And a birthday hat.

Yes, it’s a duck with a birthday hat. (And also definitive proof of why I’d make a really lousy graphic designer. For one, I couldn’t figure out how to get rid of the outer square that delineates photo edge — I thought, being white on white, everything would blend nicely. Second, I cut-and-pasted the duck from my ARC cover. Need I say more?)

Anyway, the duck with the birthday hat is here because it’s been a year since my debut novel came out. Thank you to everyone who bought the print or Kindle version of Regarding Ducks and Universes in the past year, or borrowed it from a library, or left a review, or sent me a kind note, or left a comment saying you enjoyed reading it. You guys are great!

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the next book — for now all I can say is that there are things in the works. That’s all I can say mostly because that’s all I know for now. Stay tuned. More to come.