This Place Rocks.

The other day I needed to do some reading—research for a new book I’m writing. It was hot inside my little house, yet I didn’t like the thought of closing myself into an air-conditioned space at the library on such a gorgeous day.

IMG_5377And then I thought about the Harbor View Hotel on North Water Street, or rather, I thought about its porch. Something about that porch intrigues me. It is nearly endless, with its iconic chairs that move gently in the breeze, beckoning their guests (and sometimes passers-by like me) to take a seat and enjoy the picture-postcard view of the lighthouse and the harbor and the serenity all around. (Actually, the porch and the whole hotel became a highly visible character in my latest book, VINEYARD MAGIC, but that’s a different story.)

I decided that, yes, the Harbor View was a perfect place to work. I gathered my research materials and meandered across town. I parked in front (A parking space! In Edgartown! In August!!!). I climbed onto the porch, slipped into one of the amazing rocking chairs, and acted as if I belonged there.

Oddly, as you can see in the photo here, no one was around. I would not have minded company, but it seemed that everyone was at the beach (or perhaps they were stuck in traffic at the Triangle or Stop ‘n Shop). The only folks I saw were those who pattered in and out of the front door of the hotel, juggling their coolers, kids, shovels, pails, and blankets, their happy laughter bouncing in the air. They didn’t stop to chat, though . . . they kept their eyes fixed across the water on the long shoreline of Chappaquiddick that awaited.

So I sat there, rocking and reading, for nearly two hours. I accomplished more than I had hoped. And when I was between chapters I realized that in my next life, or in this one at a later time, I would very much like to be a concierge at the hotel. Maybe next week I’ll stop by Human Resources and fill out an application.

In the meantime, I’ll be glad to just do my work while sitting on the porch. Hopefully, they won’t find out and want to charge me rent.

www.jeanstone.com

They’re Here!

The fabulous new MV license plates have arrived, and I couldn’t be happier! With an early bird opportunity to select my favorite number (yup, this one is mine, no doubt about it), and a small donation to Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (the place that keeps the island ticking), over 1,000 applications had been received, which was more than enough for the special state-issued plates.

IMG_5378Hooray!

But this is not an ordinary RMV story. (Surprise!)

This morning was my day to go to the registry and get my new plates. I pulled myself together early and packed a few essentials: ice water, a book I’m reading for the Edgartown Library book group, a notebook, pen, much-needed glasses. I was, after all heading off to the island RMV and, well, sometimes there’s a wait. ☺

I arrived around 9:30, gathered my daypack, and headed inside. I stood in the middle of the open room and surveyed my surroundings. Aside from one young woman who stood on the opposite side of the front door, no one was around. Not a soul. It seemed she was sorting license plates.

I stopped, turned back to the door, and rechecked the HOURS. I thought the office might not open until 10:00, and that someone had left the door unlocked. Either that, or it was a holiday. Where were the lines? Where were the people parked on the long benches? Where was the click-click of the Take-A-Number machine?

The young woman turned to me. “May I help you?” she called from across the room.

“Um,” I replied. “Yes. I’m here to pick up my Vineyard plate?” I said it as a question because I had begun to wonder if, instead of the RMV, I had wandered into the Twilight Zone.

The young woman, whose middle name, as is happens, is Jean, smiled. “I can take care of you.”

Three and one half minutes later I was out of there with my new plates. Wow.

But not so fast. When I got home and put on the new plates, I noticed a small flaw in the front one: someone at Walpole State Penitentiary, or wherever it is that license plates are IMG_5379now made, had failed to paint the “J” in “JUN,” which I guessed stood for “June,” the month the plates were actually made. It was a small glitch, but it made me smile to think that I will renew the registration in UN of next year.

Well, nobody’s perfect, I suppose. Not even the RMV. But kudos to the Vineyard office!

Who were Yours?

After a brief trip, I returned to the island Tuesday afternoon, grateful that the crossing was uneventful and the weather had turned cooler and that I could put my feet up and say, “Ahhh . . . home.”

IMG_5373But as I turned on the TV to await the evening news, a familiar voice rang out: “She had a little trouble with her dismount but she looked strong in the warm-ups . . .” I sat up straight and smiled. The video showed a young woman in sparkly pink Spandex, flipping and twisting and then—yay!—sticking her dismount. I had inadvertently tuned in to the U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastic Trials; the announcer’s voice belonged to Tim Daggett, 1984 Olympic gold medal gymnast.

Full disclosure: I am not, never was, never wanted to be a gymnast. In third grade I sucked at climbing ropes, doing cartwheels, standing on my head. I was better at making up stories, which back then were called “daydreams.” (“Jean! Stop daydreaming!” my mother or my grandfather or Mrs. Smith, my teacher, often barked.)

Today my daydreams are called “fiction.” From the time I was eight or nine, I wanted to write. But if it hadn’t been for a few important people, including Tim Daggett, who knows what might have happened.

I believe that all types of incredibly supportive, inspiring people step into our lives—people beyond our families and our close friends—who, amazingly, think we are capable of reaching our goals.

I met Tim through a business connection, helped him with some marketing projects, and ended up co-authoring his story, DARE TO DREAM (Baker Books 1992). It was my first published book, which was unbelievably exciting. But even more important, while working with Tim, I became influenced by his unwavering determination, his ability to, as he might say, “have a dream and do whatever it takes to make that dream come true.” In 1994, thanks in large part to Tim’s inspiration, my first novel, SINS OF INNOCENCE, was published (Bantam Books).

Later, I attended a lecture at Smith College given by Kurt Vonnegut. His theme focused on the teachers in our lives: he closed by asking how many in the audience had been inspired/encouraged/motivated by a teacher. Most of us raised a hand. Vonnegut then asked us to turn to the person on our left and reveal the teacher’s name. I turned my head. “Miss Carroll,” I said without hesitation. She had been my ninth grade English teacher. And she’d encouraged me—really encouraged me—to write. And write. And write.

So this year when I watch the Olympics, I will think of Tim and Miss Carroll and a few other special people. I will remember that without them I would probably not have 19-and-counting published novels.

What about you? Who were your greatest inspirations? Have you thought about them . . . and maybe thanked them lately? Do it! It feels great. Best of all, sparkly pink Spandex is not required.

Enjoy the Olympic Games!

Land Ho!

IMG_3734
I’ve left the island, heading to America for a bit. I’ve heard there’s less pollen on this side of the water, so stay tuned.

Oh, and as for that aroma of skunk I endured a couple of weeks ago? It turns out that the little guy (or girl…I didn’t get close enough) was living under my deck. Here’s hoping he has relocated by the time I return. And has carted the family off with him.

Until then, may your lazy days of summer be filled with happy reading and include a favorite from my Vineyard collection (brace yourself for another The Summer House_approvedword from our sponsor): THE SUMMER HOUSE!

Summer Reading Alert!

Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I now have a number of new readers! Yay! Many have asked about my previous titles, so, if my previous readers will please indulge me, over the next few weeks I’m going to do my own special kind of Throwback Thursday.

Here is one of my summer favorites—TIDES OF THE HEART—that’s all dressed up for easy eBook reading. A classic work of women’s fiction, it, of course, takes place on the fabulous island of Martha’s Vineyard. ItTides of the Heart_approved was a USA Today best-seller and, for some reason we’ve never been able to figure out, it was a huge seller in France.

So . . . welcome to my new readers! If you’re already familiar with my work, don’t miss this one this time around. It’s also available in paperback—published by Random House.

For other of my classic summer tales, check out my website: www.jeanstone.com.

We now return to our regular scheduled program.

Flag Day

FullSizeRenderHere on Martha’s Vineyard, the air is filled with aromas of grilling and sounds of laughter and music and, well, the good stuff that happens when people converge for that fabulous thing called vacation. In short, summer is here; the season has officially begun.

Of course, it’s also Memorial Day, which, if you’ve been on FB, you’ve been reminded many times of what the holiday really means. Which is good.

The first time I visited the National Cemetery in Bourne, MA was in 2011. I was overwhelmed with the expanse of rolling, green land, the veritable hush in the air, and the thousands upon thousands of American flags that waved in the gentle Cape Cod breeze.

It turned out that over 60,000 flags had been placed at each marker by scores of volunteers. Called Operation Flags for Vets, the project was organized by a man named Paul Monti, who had lost his son in Afghanistan in 2006. Each year since 2011, flags are placed on Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day.

FullSizeRender-1I was lucky to have had one of these amazing vets in my life. As with all the markers, his is simple; he would have liked it that way. Best of all, it is surrounded by markers of vets from different wars, different eras, wartime, and peacetime. All vets, nonetheless. All among those who—the cliché says it best—had served to keep freedom alive.

So on this weekend of burgers and beaches and folks having fun, I thought you might like to see some of those flags (there are now 66,000) . . . and imagine the quiet with respect. And with thanks.

Oh, and though this is not about me, I’d like to add that this year I had the privilege of being one of those flag-placing volunteers. It was a most memorable, truly heartfeltFullSizeRender-2 experience that I shared with 4,000 people . . . and one stranger—a nameless, sweet biker guy who appeared from out of nowhere and offered to give me a hand. I was grateful; the task was difficult. He didn’t say much; he merely worked methodically alongside me, piercing the earth so I could more easily insert the small flagpole.

I couldn’t have done it without him. When we were finished the sweet biker guy wandered off to help someone else. I never found out what had drawn him to the event—what, or more importantly, who. My best guess is that he, too, had his own reasons for attending, instead of hanging out at home having burgers and beer.

http://www.jeanstone.com