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December 12 – Hannah Talbot

 

I work real estate, so I don’t just have to find that “Christmas”-y feeling for myself. I have to find a way to make empty houses feel warm and inviting. Otherwise, it’s just a wide open, empty building with cold rooms and naked walls. So I stretch the truth a little. I put up a little Christmas tree next to the window, I bake some cookies in the oven and let the scent waft through the house, and I put a Christmas CD on repeat. I usually go for something modern like some big musician’s latest Christmas album, without thinking too hard about who it is or what they’re singing.

 

Most years, that was enough effort for me. I was happy enough to go into some stranger’s house and put up the set dressing, make the place look like home sweet home, then go to my little apartment and maybe sip eggnog while I watch Rudolph on TV.

 

This year will be different, though. Thanks to Kira. I’m going to be spending my Christmas with a woman I really care for. This could be the start of something really, really big. And for the first time, I got weepy listening to a Christmas song. It was an old standard: I’ll be Home for Christmas. For the first time since I was a little girl, I’m going to have a home. Not just a house, not just a place to keep my stuff, but a real home.

 

I’m at a total loss for how I’m supposed to decorate for keeps. I’m mainly only good at the quick and easy way to fool people for a half hour at a time. But Kira will help me. We can figure it out together. We’re actually getting pretty good at this ‘learn as we go thing.’

 

I wish everyone out there a happy holiday with their loved ones,

 

– Hannah Talbot appears in the short stories Everything for Time, Better Sorry than Safe, and Peace in Rest.



December 10 – Miranda Powell

 

Nadine is going to murder me for admitting this, but I figure if you can’t be honest about Christmas songs… she hates for me to admit in public the kind of music I listen to. Oldies are great, I love ’em, listen to them all day at work. But I like to have a little something different when I get home. And it drives Nadine absolutely insane that my favorite Christmas song is “Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues.

 

Sure it has foul language, but it has a kind of gritty beauty. Kind of like New York City. I’ll never regret moving to Squire’s Isle. It gave me a job I adore, it brightened my life, and it introduced me to Nadine. I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. But sometimes when I get homesick or nostalgic, start to think about back home, this song really brings it to life for me. The image of drunken fools leads to memories of those dark little bars I used to frequent. That brings to mind the dark streets, little flurries of undaunted snowflakes swirling down between the skyscrapers. That’s Christmas to me, and this song brings all those great feelings back.

 

This year, Nadine and I are going to sit in front of the couch in our pajamas, eating milk and cookies while we wait for Santa, and I’ll cover Nadine’s ears while I play this song on the radio. I don’t mind; it gives me an excuse to put my arms around her and hold her close.

 

So happy Christmas, everybody, and may all your dreams come true.

 

– Miranda Powell appears in the novel On the Air, and short stories Workwoman’s Wages, The Christmas Boat, Fairytales of Squire’s Isle and Eating Out in Squire’s Isle.



December 8 – Amy Wellis

I don’t have a lot of happy memories of my childhood or my family. Getting kicked out while you’re still in high school tends to throw a pall over the good times. But there is one memory that I’ll never be able to forget, and I’ll never want to forget it. Every year right before Thanksgiving, Mom would start to pester me about my wish list. Not that she had to pester too hard, understand. I, like most kids, started making my list while eating my trick-or-treat candy.

 

It was our little joke that I would ask for a hippopotamus every year. Anyone can ask for a pony. Such a cliché. But my request had a whole song to go along with it. One Christmas holiday, my parents took me to a zoo on the mainland and I saw a real-life hippo for the first time in my life. After that, I wasn’t quite so serious about wanting one of my very own. I still liked the song, though!

 

Now that I have a bakery, every Christmas I put this song on the rotation and I make great big hippo shaped cookies. Kids twelve and under can come up to the counter, declare they want a hippopotamus for Christmas, and they can have one for free. And I don’t care what Kate says, they’re far more popular than the vanilla-frosted wafers I’ll hand out if a kid says all he wants are his two front teeth.

 

Whether it comes with teeth or hippos, I wish you and yours a very, very merry Christmas.

 

Amy Wellis appears in the novel On the Air, as well as short stories Prison Grove, Rounding Home, The Christmas Boat, Baked Goods, Fairytales of Squire’s Isle, and Eating Out in Squire’s Isle.



December 6 – Andrea Tyler

I never really took the time to notice Christmas carols growing up. I mean, I knew when they were playing, but I had no real loyalty to one above another. And I almost answered this by saying I didn’t have a favorite because they’re all equal in terms of, of… well, crap. I never really got into the schmaltzy sentiment of it all. But then I thought about it for a moment and I realized that there was one song I liked above all the others.

 

I lusted after Kelsey Quinn for a long time. A lot longer than I would care to admit. When we ended up together, it seemed magical. Like if I fell asleep I would wake up and realize it had all been a dream or a fantasy. But we managed to get through to Christmas, and I escorted her to an adult’s-only ball. No, nothing like that. This is small-town Montana, for Pete’s sake. It was just a nice quiet evening with friends, and I arrived with Kelsey as my date.

 

When we arrived, the doors were open and I could see fairy lights twinkling inside. Loud laughter, lots of people, nowhere near my comfort zone. Kelsey noticed when I tensed, and guided me to the side of the building. We stood in the shadows and she said we didn’t have to go in until I was comfortable.

 

While we were there, a man came out with an acoustic guitar. He sat on the curb and very quietly began strumming God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. Kelsey and I danced a little bit in the shadows before I told her we could go in. She took my hand, we wished the musician a merry Christmas, and joined the festivities.

 

So without contest, that song will always have a special place in my heart. I know when I hear it this year, I’ll think of that man, that night, and dancing in the shadows with the love of my life.

 

– Andrea Tyler appears in short stories Alive Day and A Little Gossip as well as the forthcoming novel Only Flame and Air.



December 4 – Jill Colby

 

This is a little embarrassing, but what the heck? Christmas carols are about embarrassing, right? No one can make fun of you for being sentimental or overly nostalgic because these are Christmas songs! My favorite Christmas song ever is Christmas Time is Here. You might not recognize the name, but you know the tune. It’s the music used in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Every time I hear it, I immediately think of little kids skating in circles on a little frozen pond. I tend to play it during quiet moments in class, and the kids really seem to respond to it.

 

The second that piano music starts, you might as well throw in the towel. The Christmas season has begun. I don’t care if snow has fallen yet, I don’t care if it’s still seventy degrees outside, I don’t care if it’s still a week until Thanksgiving. That song means the holiday season has begun.

 

This won’t be my first Christmas with Patricia, but it will be our first Christmas as domestic partners. I think we’ll get up early on Christmas morning, cuddle in bed for a while, and play our favorite carols until Michael forced us to join the real world. I hope your Christmas is as peaceful and full of love as I know mine will be.

 

Jill Colby appears in short stories Doing Laundry on Valentine’s Day, Rounding Home, Patricia’s Portrait, Fairytales of Squire’s Isle, Too Many Once Upon a Times, Separation Anxiety, and Eating Out in Squire’s Isle.



December 2 – Nadine Butler

When I was a little girl, my favorite Christmas carols tended to involve merchandise-related songs. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and of course the fantastic Chipmunk Song. I never did get a hula hoop, by the way, in case anyone… no, never mind. But once I had grown up a little, I decided I was too old for those little kid songs and started listening to the new standards.

 

If I have to pick a favorite, I still don’t consider it Christmas until I’ve heard John Lennon’s Happy Xmas (War is Over). It’s almost like a prayer set to music. So that’s why I make it a point to play it every year on the first of December, to get the holiday season off right. I probably play it on my show more than any other Christmas song.

 

One of the perks of dating my station manager is that she never yells at me if I play it too much. Or, well… when she does yell, it’s never too bad. Usually. Whatever reprimand I might get from Miranda, Happy Xmas is worth it. I get such an optimistic feeling from it, the harmony and the sentiment of a world deciding they’ve had enough of war and violence.

 

To everyone out there, as Mr. Lennon said, I wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!

 

Nadine Butler appears in On the Air, as well as featuring in the short stories The Christmas Boat, Fairytales of Squire’s Isle and Eating Out in Squire’s Isle.



This has been asked of me several times, so I thought I would finally put this up for everyone to see. I’m just antsy about making it official, ie putting it on my website, because I’m still fiddling with it.

This is the chronological order of my canon stories. Meaning these stories could be referenced in future stories, or can be considered “official” events for the people of Squire’s Isle. If it’s not on this list, it’s not official in my mind, and can be read in any order you’d like. This is a tentative list, and always changing. The short stories either are, or will be shortly, available in the Coffee Table  Books section of my website unless otherwise noted.

Prison Grove
Workwoman’s Wages
World on Fire
(novel, to be published early 2009)
Doing Laundry on Valentine’s Day
On the Air
(novel)
Rounding Home
Patricia’s Portrait
The Christmas Boat (Christmas, 2007)
Ferry Tale
Baked Goods
Gemini (novel to be published late 2008)
Everything for Time

Better Sorry Than Safe

Fairytales of Squire’s Isle (Christmas, 2008)
Separation Anxiety
Eating Out in Squire’s Isle
In Every Port (to be published in January 2009 issue of Khimairal Ink)



I asked for writerly questions over on my livejournal and I got one that I wanted to answer immediately. How’s that for service? The question(s), from Syrenslure:

How did you conceive of Squire’s Isle? Why are most of your stories set there? – I’ve answered the origin question before, in the post “Why Squire’s Isle?” (http://www.geonncannon.com/blog/?p=8), but as for why most of my stories are set there… I really loved the idea of a universe where my stories would all take place. It would create a connection between the fictional people that would, in turn, help readers feel comfortable there. When you read one novel and hear mention of a “female DJ,” you know it’s Nadine. Or if the characters stop into Coffee Table Books, even if Amy’s not mentioned, you might feel like you’re returning to an old favorite place. At least, I feel that way when I write about it. <g>

Who is your favorite character to date? Who was the first character to “come to life” in your head? Who do you relate the most to? Who would you most want to date? – The first character to be born is still the one who is unpublished: Neil Miser. Squire’s Isle was created for him, to give his stories a world to occupy. He makes a cameo in Gemini (due in September). Who do I relate to most… I don’t think I’m anywhere near as likeable as some of the people I have created. But I think Nadine would be close to me. Quiet, friendly, maybe willing to put up with a bad situation rather than say something and cause a scene. Who would I date? Geez. I put a lot of qualities I like in a woman into Nadine from On the Air (dark hair, glasses, etc), so I would definitely be attracted to her if I met her in real life. Either Nadine or Jill Colby.

I know you can knock out a new novel in less than two weeks, but what do you do in between? How long do you spend each day on writing? Where do your ideas come from? – I quote Martin Lloyd from Stargate: “Never ask a writer where we get our ideas. The truth is… we don’t know.” But I get ideas from songs, books, TV… My latest novel, The Following Sea, was inspired by a Great Big Sea song. On the Air was inspired with an email conversation with a friend, and Gemini came about because I read The Thirteenth Tale, which was about twins. So it’s a myriad of things that go into my brain, gestate and then explode.

The time I spend per day writing varies. I’m generally on the computer between 1pm and 11pm, but I’m never writing the entire time (even when writing a novel). I would say, grand total throughout the day, I would say maybe six or seven hours are spent actually putting words on paper/screen.

To clarify, I can write a first draft in two weeks. Revising takes another week, but I like to take a break between the drafts. So say a month between starting it and having it ready for submission. It’s a small difference, but it is a difference. 😀 In between, I write short stories, I let ideas for other novels stew (I have two battling it out right now trying to be the next one) and I basically just build up the steam for the next novel. I firmly believe that I write so quickly because I take such long breaks in between in which I do nothing. It evens out, I think. <g>

Hope this answers your questions! And anyone else who has any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

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I wrote a story this week called “Too Many ‘Once Upon a Times'” (look for it around early May on the site) and I got to thinking about character histories. After so long writing fanfiction, it’s still kind of amazing to think that I have the power to create an entire canon for an entire world of people. Everything I say goes, really. Like if I decide that “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” isn’t necessarily part of the Jill/Patricia or Squire’s Isle canon, then it’s not.

So, with that in mind, there’s an easy way to determine what is and isn’t canon in my world. If it’s on my website, it’s canon. If not, it’s not. That may change as the Coffee Table Books section grows, but for now, it’s the easiest way to figure it out.

As for updating this blog… my New Years resolution to post twice a month seems to be working out to two frantically-made posts in the last week of the month. I’ll try to be better about that, honest. Maybe it would be easier if I had more readers! *peers into the corners* I know you’re out there!

Until later!



Hello, everyone, and welcome back to my occasional blog 😀 I hope you all had a lovely holiday season!

The main reason this blog isn’t updated more is because, frankly, I can’t think of much to say that isn’t BUY MY BOOK (note: buy it, if you haven’t. It’s a small price to pay for an author’s undying love, don’t you think? :D). But I came up with something I wanted to share, and this is as good a place as any.

Why Squire’s Isle? I’m an Oklahoma boy, born and bred. I live within spitting distance of cows and prairies (not that I would ever spit at a cow, mind you). So why on Earth would I write novels set on an island in the Pacific Northwest?

Squire’s Isle was born of a trip I took in 2004. The purpose of the trip was to visit Vancouver, Canada, but there was a spontaneous sidetrip to the San Juan Islands. I didn’t want to go on the sidetrip. It involved a ferry and lots of water and, like I said, the deepest water I had ever been in was in a bathtub. So I was anxious and not very sanguine about this “wasted” day.

But as soon as I got on the ferry to go to the island, I realized I had made the right decision. There was something about being on the water that was soothing. Calming. It was beautiful, early in the day and peaceful. It was something I had never experienced; just being on a boat and being carried past these lovely little islands.

The island itself was straight out of a dream. An amazing little town that was small, but not a ghost town. It was alive, vibrant, like something from a postcard. All the small towns I had ever seen were Oklahoma ghost towns or near-ghost towns. Faded signs, empty storefronts, nothing spectacular. But the town – Friday Harbor – just seemed alive. I remember standing on the boardwalk with an ice cream cone, waiting for the return ferry after we’d seen the whales (WHALES!), and looking out over the harbor.

I think it was that instant, watching the boats and seeing the evergreen trees on the island’s arm that embraced the harbor, that I realized I’d found my “base.” For the longest time, I had set my original character stories in Chicago. It never really worked for me and I couldn’t figure out why. I changed everything but the setting.

A handful of hours on San Juan Island and I suddenly knew: my characters didn’t belong in Chicago; they belonged on an island.

I knew I couldn’t use San Juan itself. I wanted original characters, I wanted store owners, and most of all, I wanted the freedom to create my own universe. So I took San Juan Island, wiped the slate clean and started filling it in with my own names. Coffee Table Books. Gail’s Seafood Shack. After years of struggling, my world was falling into place extremely easily. I had found the missing piece of the puzzle.

Not long after the trip, the island was still nameless. Until my family was on our way back from a funeral and my father mentioned an old hill we used to live near. I remembered that hill; it was on our way to the old country church that I still remember as the first church I ever went to. It was steep as anything, and going down it every Sunday made your stomach drop into your feet. It was like an amusement park ride in the middle of a boring car trip. I asked what the hill was called and my father said, “Squire’s Hill, I think.”

My father is not known for his accuracy. There may not be a Squire’s Hill anywhere in Oklahoma. But I knew, as soon as the words were out of his mouth, that I had my island name.

I picked Squire’s Isle as the setting for my story because I wanted a small town. A world where people would believably know one another, their paths might cross and they might possibly be friends with each other. It’s a self-contained world in a way that only an island can be. I remember standing on San Juan Island and thinking that it shouldn’t exist in this day and age. A small town with friendly people? Something this beautiful where you can see orca whales wandering by? It was like a dream.

That was what I wanted. A world that was slightly off from this one, a world where you could see that it was the same world we lived in, but could also believe there was a tiny bit of magic there as well.

If you’ve read “On the Air,” welcome to Squire’s Isle. If you haven’t yet, what are you waiting for? There’s always room for another tourist. 😀