Sunny, eighty degrees, not a single cloud marring a stunning blue sky, walking the boardwalk along the ocean, watching a seal bob up in the water, sipping my mango-green tea smoothie.

That’s right – I’m not in Anchorage anymore. Not for the next few days anyhow. Taking off for San Diego, the woman seated next to me complained that Alaska was just too cold. I was ready to stick up for my home, enumerating all that’s wonderful about life in the Far North, but now that I’m here, well, I have to admit warmth is a very good thing.

On the flight down, I read some great John Straley, which I’ll comment on next week. I kept thinking of what Sophie R. said in the 49 Writers discussion last weekend: “For me, all John Straley’s writing is infused with a feeling of homecoming. I can open any of his novels, including ‘The Big Both Ways’ which I read as soon as it came out in spring, open any one, anywhere at all, start reading, and instantly feel comforted, reassured, safe. And this is not because unpleasant things don’t happen. We know that his books aren’t like that. Lots of bad things happen to his characters – physical violence, emotional abuse, unfortunate circumstances, foolish decisions – and all those awful things lead to pain and loneliness and something close to despair. But the despair never wins.”

If you didn’t get a chance to participate in the discussion at 49 Writers, it’s well worth going back to read the many insightful comments.

Speaking of despair, the economics of writing keeps getting worse. Harper reported 3rd quarter losses of $3 million. At Scholastic, workforce reductions are underway. Look for a leaner and meaning publishing industry. Another reason to enjoy the sunshine while I can.

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