It’s been a long time since I did a quiz but the current issue of Oprah Winfrey’s magazine asks a number of questions about summer and I decided to answer them! (I added a few fun ones of my own.)
It’s not really summer until…I have to turn on the air conditioner? It used to be when blueberries became available but now they’re in the supermarket pretty much year round, coming from South America.
My ideal June day consists of…working on my novels in the morning and curling up with a good book in the afternoon. Of course that’s kind of my year round default setting.
The best summer of my life was…the summer after I graduated from high school because I was in love for the first time. (And we did eventually get married…)
The worst summer of my life was…1988, when I became a widow. I really don’t care for summer, frankly. I’m a cold weather girl all the way!
My favorite summer tradition is…the rubberband boat races we used to have. We’d have a huge pool party, a potluck and then the races, followed by water volleyball. Just so much fun!
If I could vacation anywhere, I’d go to…Disneyland! But in this fantasy, I’d be able to have it closed for a private party with family and friends and ride all the rides without any waiting in line. Including of course the new Star Wars land.
The soundtrack of my summer is…the Beach Boys!
My beach style is…A one piece swimsuit with a flirty skirt (yup, old fashioned here) and then a gauzy floaty coverup.
My best summer vacation ever…when I was a little girl we’d drive up to Maine every summer, take a ferry and spend a week or two on an island with relatives who lived there. It was so relaxing and so different from my daily life in upstate New York. Lots of good memories there!
My favorite summer beverage… sweet ice tea
Favorite summer-themed movie…”Dirty Dancing”
Favorite Summer Olympics sport… Gymnastics! Although the equestrian events are fun to watch and I like the diving…ooh and the synchronized swimming!
Best snapshot summer moment from my childhood…sitting in a rowboat on a peaceful lake, reading a good book. (Probably Trixie Belden…)
I only have one book on the backlist that’s got a ‘summer vacation’ theme. Of course it’s vacation gone terribly wrong! STAR CRUISE: MAROONED was fun to write and I’ll share a beach excerpt. This is the first moment Meg, the heroine, begins to realize something is seriously wrong:
Finishing the lunch service, she had a bit of free time before the mid afternoon snack. Mingling with the passengers held no appeal for her. She wasn’t working charters to try and snag a generational billionaire or intergalactic businessman. Meg sent as many of her credits as she could to her family, on their home world, to buy more land for the Antille spice farms. Scanning the beach for a moment, she considered the primary guest and the men he’d brought along on this cruise. A mix of businessmen like himself and faded celebrities to fawn over him and impress the men he wanted to do deals with. Shaking her head, she couldn’t wait to see the last of this bunch.
Taking a glass of the refreshing faquilada fruit drink, she wandered toward the TDJ pavilion, hoping she knew a few of the cruise staff or crew. A woman in the other line’s uniform came to meet her, waving cordially. Delighted, Meg recognized Sallira, a casual acquaintance in the Guild. Their circle of mutual friends was wide, so catching up on gossip took a few minutes. Then Meg said, “Hey, what’s the deal with the ranger station? My guy said it was closed. Did you see anyone official when you landed?”
Sallira shook her head. “No, he’s right, the staff is all gone.” Making a funny face of regret, lips scrunched, she sighed. “Too bad, I had a flirtation going with the senior ranger last time I was here.” One eyebrow raised suggestively, she sipped her drink. “I was anticipating more fun and games this trip, if you know what I mean.” She nudged Meg in the ribs with her elbow. “Harmless fun, but he sure was cute.”
Meg stared at the Falls and then the lake. The park gave the appearance of order, serene and beautiful as always. Maybe the Sector Thirty government had decided to cut costs by eliminating the rangers? But then why hadn’t she seen a bulletin to that effect? The captain gave her the permit token before the shuttle left the Far Horizon this morning, so he must not have known the permanent staff was gone either.
There was a shout from the TDJ pavilion. One of the crew was hustling their obviously bewildered passengers toward Meg and Sallira, while a second man ran ahead, sprinting for the landing field as if he had a major predator on his heels. The other cruise staff member was matching him stride for stride, but skidded to a stop in the sand next to Sallira, breathing hard. “We gotta go, right now.”
Eyes wide, the woman’s jaw dropped. “What are you talking about?”
“Captain called, emergency channel, said get our butts up to the ship immediately.”
Sallira twisted her hair into a knot as she prepared to return to work. “I guess gossip time is over, sorry, Meg. I’ll go pack the gear—”
But the other TDJ woman was shaking her head, pulling her by the elbow. “No, the captain said leave everything. Run before the pilot leaves us.”
“Is there something I should know?” Meg asked. No one ever abandoned the expensive robots and gear. Unease stirred in her gut.
“I don’t know, captain didn’t give any details. We’re out of here.” The staffer grabbed a dawdling child who was digging a hole in the sand, and hurried to the incline leading to the shuttles.
“Guess I better go,” Sallira said. “Maybe you should check with your captain, might be a solar flare or something.”
Her crewmates were yelling and gesturing for Sallira to hurry so she didn’t linger for any more chitchat, taking off at a fast pace, leaving Meg alone on the beach. Moments later, the TDJ shuttle lifted straight from the pad and shot into the azure sky. Meg rubbed her elbow, suddenly feeling goose bumps. The beach wasn’t as welcoming anymore, despite the bright sun and the ethereal music from the Falls. The forlorn pavilion and humming equipment bothered her.
The blurb: Meg Antille works long hours on the charter cruise ship Far Horizon so she can send credits home to her family. Working hard to earn a promotion to a better post (and better pay), Meg has no time for romance.
Former Special Forces soldier Red Thomsill only took the berth on the Far Horizon in hopes of getting to know Meg better, but so far she’s kept him at a polite distance. A scheduled stopover on the idyllic beach of a nature preserve planet may be his last chance to impress the girl.
But when one of the passengers is attacked by a wild animal it becomes clear that conditions on the lushly forested Dantaralon aren’t as advertised – the ranger station is deserted, the defensive perimeter is down…and then the Far Horizon’s shuttle abruptly leaves without any of them.
Marooned on the dangerous outback world, romance is the least of their concerns, and yet Meg and Red cannot help being drawn to each other once they see how well they work together. But can they survive long enough to see their romance through? Or will the wild alien planet defeat them, ending their romance and their lives before anything can really begin?