TWO MONTHS HAVE passed since my last blog – an update is probably well overdue!
On Sacred Ground is pretty much finished. The book has been fully written, edited, typeset, proofed, and proofed again, and I finally have the first sample copies in hand. Getting this far has taken an epic amount of work, although as a labour of love ‘work’ might not be the right word! But it has certainly filled the hours, days and weeks with solid effort. Large publishers put entire teams to work preparing a book for release, but I don’t have that option. I hope this explains why I haven’t blogged recently. I’ve been putting On Sacred Ground first.
This week, I’ve started sending out Advance Review Copies to professional reviewers and media outlets in the hope that I can reach more of my potential audience than I’ve so far reached with The Earth Beneath My Feet. Marketing is still a skill I lack, although I aim to develop that skill over the next few months in the run up to On sacred Ground’s October 1st release. Then again, I’d much rather head off to the hills than spend time learning how to market a book. So we’ll see how it goes!
In recent weeks I’ve also spent a great deal of time exploring other print options, looking for a printer who can provide ‘print on demand’ services at a higher and more consistent quality. In truth, I struggle with the print quality of the two providers I currently use: KDP for all Amazon orders, and Ingram Spark for all book shop orders. As I’ve seen, a few copies have contained printing flaws, such as streaks in the photos, or text that doesn’t perfectly align. As a perfectionist who has spent over two decades giving it everything I have to create the best possible book that I can, accepting that there are certain quality issues beyond my control is hard to do. I have now seen a couple of badly printed copies, and they are professionally maddening! The Earth Beneath My Feet has recently received a small number of one- and two-star ratings on Amazon, and naturally I find myself wondering why. I never imagined that everyone would like the book, but to rate it ‘one star’ means there must have been something really bad about it! A late delivery or poor printing is one possibility (of many possibilities, I know!) I truly wish that the readers who selected one, two, or even three stars had left reviews to explain why! It would show me where I’m going wrong, and more importantly it would help other readers make the right choices. Ah well!
In regards to printing, unfortunately, I still haven’t found a more reasonable alternative. But I’ll keep on looking! I really want my books to be top quality.
Beyond attempting to solve production issues, I’m also moving forward with turning The Earth Beneath My Feet into an audio book, and will aim to do the same for On Sacred Ground. On top of that, I’m creating artwork for a hardcover version of both books. These will contain more photos than the paperback versions, and the Hardback version of The Earth beneath My Feet will also include a foreword written by an author and backpacker I greatly respect, and who is in a league of his own. Watch this space! (You may have noticed in the book cover photo above that On Sacred Ground has a foreword by award-winning author, Jim Perrin. Jim writes with a depth few nature and outdoor authors can match. I am profoundly awed that he believes my own work is worthy of support and praise!)
Away from work, I’ve been wandering far and wide across the Colorado foothills and mountains. I’ve been walking and running daily, and backpacking at least once a week. Even an unpleasant bout of COVID didn’t keep me indoors for long. A heavy snowfall in mid May plastered the mountains with two feet of wet snow, and even though COVID still held me in its energy-limiting grasp I couldn’t stay home and miss out. For sure, I took it easy during the outing, walking at a snail-slow pace, and I barely covered any distance, but the rewards for braving the cold despite feeling ill are hopefully clear in the photo below. It was sheer perfection!
Since my last blog, Colorado’s Front Range foothills have greened up, the high country snows have began thawing into oblivion, and the days have become long, warm and friendly. The photos below give a few highlights from the many outings I’ve been on during the last two months. Some of the treasures I’ve found out in the wild places deserve sharing in far more detail… but I hope that these images and captions will at least hint at some of the magic.
Thanks for taking a look!
The hillside above camp was soon bustling with wild turkeys – I counted over forty. The males where spreading their tails, strutting about, and calling their mating call – a deep booming sound. The visual and audio display was fascinating, and somewhat comical!
On May 4th a burst of British-style wind, rain and snow swept through – conditions too wild and wet for me to ignore. Colorado’s 300-plus sunny days are year certainly aren’t something to complain about, but one can, arguably, have too much of a good thing! The foothills close to home feel bigger and wilder in ‘wuthering’ weather like this, with clouds swirling and dampness unleashing a thousand scents. I had work to do, but stayed out far longer than perhaps I should have.
Clouds and mist drifting across the foothills, with fresh snow clearly visible on higher ground.
Fog drifting through the forest at a favourite view spot. On this occasion, there were no long distance views… and somehow it was all the better for it.
A contorted outcrop of gneiss, a fascinating natural ‘work of art’.
My much-used and much-loved tent – Auld Leakie – lived up to it’s name rather too well during a deluge last summer. When I spotted a similar tent on Craigslist that was barely used and affordably priced I grabbed it without hesitation. On this first use, birds kept landing on it while I was lying inside, perhaps mistaking it for a rock, and so the tent acquired a name: ‘The Little Rock’, ‘Rocky’ for short. Now I just need some severe weather to see if it stands up to the elements with rock-like resilience!
As May advanced, the rough slope directly above my home became a magical blossom-scented paradise.
A short distance from home, the weaving path I probably follow more than any other.
In the middle of May, I headed up to a popular pass to enjoy it in solitude before the summer crowds arrive. Deep soft snow and tight willow thickets made travel exceptionally difficult. But difficult is not always a negative thing! The wild felt even finer for being earned, the pleasure of being there alone far greater.
Camp was made in a glorious location with a grand view. Few restaurants offer better views. (But we won’t comment on the food, however!)
The lunar eclipse on may 16th wasn’t an event to miss…
And then came winter’s return, late May. Far too special to miss!
Secret avenues to explore in the snow-hushed forest.
May 22nd. Colorado does spring differently from the suburbs of London where I grew up!
June 2nd – my adopted birthday, the anniversary of my accident on Switzerland’s Hohturli Pass. Waking up here, in a spacious place, feeling truly alive, was the perfect way to mark it. The last 29 years feel like a bonus – I could easily have missed them. The gratitude I feel for everything life has brought remains intense.
Spot the tent – ‘The Little Rock’! June 9th and I was back up in the high country, with winter thawing fast.
Although June, the temperature still fell below freezing at night. It was cold enough that the surface of nearby beaver ponds froze and the nearby snowdrifts temporarily stop thawing. Without water running into them, the water level in the ponds dropped overnight, leaving thin plates of ice suspended above empty space. Sitting in camp the next morning, drinking coffee, I heard loud shattering noises. It sounded like several moose stomping around, but in reality it was just the new day’s warmth, breaking the ice. It was a memorable event!
Above camp the world was beautiful and far more peaceful!
There are worse ways to start a day!
Just a few weeks earlier this pond was frozen and the landscape buried in snow. Excitement for the short summer season in the high country grows!
Back down in the foothills, the landscape has definitely greened up. Starting June 13th, and another week, with a view like this is one of the reasons why my projects move so slowly. I should have packed away camp and headed straight home for work, but…
A dreamy foothills evening.
Elk in evening light, their newly-grown antlers covered in velvet.
The trail home through the forest. Except… I was already home in the forest!
And lastly: another night, another camp. Summer is here! The air was warm and soft, filled with birds and insects singing and calling. The landscape felt lush and welcoming, not the same place that it was when hidden beneath snow two months earlier. Being immersed in it – lost in it – felt incredible. This is home!