Ten days from now, I will arrive on Hawaii’s Big Island.
There will be sunshine and palm trees. A volcano will spew lava every day.
Since I grew up in the shadow of Mt. St. Helens and survived the 1980 eruption, I’m excited about all that. It will be neat to see lava flow rather than the mud flow that decimated Washington all those years ago.
I’ve been to Hawaii before.
My first trip was to Honolulu in 1999. I went with a friend who had two aunts that lived on the island. We stayed in Waikiki. Very commercial, still we had a good time.
My second trip was for my 25th anniversary. Kind of.
Hubs and I went to Maui in October of 2013. I wrote some blogs from that visit.
People do NOT go back to school in July. Do the marketers know this? In fact, our local school districts don’t have their school offices open in the month of July. Why did the push of Back-to-Schools begin so early?
There’s a marketing genius somewhere who’s going to answer this. I hope they do it in the comments here.
Because the week after Independence Day, I do NOT want to think about going back to school.
For years (about fourteen), I focused on these sales. My kids needed new clothes, new shoes and that school supply list at the local retailers had to be snapped up and checked off.
In those days, I started the shopping at the end of July. I watched the sales and picked up the items on the list when they were on sale.
I guess many parents still do this. And that’s probably why the sales start so early.
But now that I DON’T have any lists, I don’t want to think about going back to school. It means the end of so many things that I love.
If school is back:
Days are shorter
Falling leaves will replace blooming flowers
Clouds will obscure the sunshine
Calls to sub will begin
Endless weeks of writing are over
A more definite schedule ensues
Work devours relaxation
Does any of that sound appealing to you? Then you might be feeling the Back-to-School Craze.
Me? Not so much.
Sure, I know I’ll be more productive when I’m forced into only three writing/author-stuff days per week. There have been summers when I’ve been super productive, too.
This summer, I wrote two completely new novellas (about 60,000 words), revised and submitted another story, and released TWO new works and re-released two others. I also wrote a completely fun fantasy short story that will be published this fall.
I could spend several more paragraphs describing the reviewer practices I put into place. But who wants to hear me yammer on about that stuff? We’re here to talk about the end of summer.
Sunshine makes me happy. I’m one of those people who is chronically Vitamin D deficient, so I joyfully plan twenty or more minutes of “sun time” every day the sun is shining.
This summer, that’s been most of May, June and July. August has been amazing, too.
Some people squawked about all the 90+ degree days, but it’s really days over 100 that suck me dry. Our air conditioner did earn its keep, though, and I wouldn’t have wanted to live without it.
I do like back-to-school supply sales, though. Although, I probably already have enough notebooks, gel pens and sticky notes for full-time author stuff for at lease five years. But the smell and feel and look of all those paper products lures me every time.
Kids are getting bored about now. They’re ready to see their friends every day. Parents are counting down the days when the schedule returns to normal.
I even saw one of my teacher friends post on Facebook that she was ready to get back to school (around August 8 which is when I wrote this post).
As for me? I’m not excited to pull out my sub pack. Summer has been too short, and there are things on my list that didn’t get accomplished.
For me, I still have two trips to enjoy before I get back into the classroom. Five days in New York City with my sister visiting our brother (August 29- September 3) is first. Then six days in Florida with my husband during the last week of September will wrap up the vacation season.
I usually don’t get calls to sub until October. I might even be ready for the Back-to-School craze by then.
Are you ready for back-to-school? What’s your favorite school supply? Do you shop the sales?
I’ve been hinting about my next story for weeks (okay, months). Yesterday, One Sultry Day went live at retailers everywhere.
There’s a contest. Scroll to the end of the post for details and a link to the entrance form.
BUT…I know it’s a risk to buy stories written by strangers. So, I’ve promised to share an excerpt from each of the stories. Each author has graciously contributed up to 500 words from their story.
Read on for an excerpt from ‘Second Chance Summer’ by Lily Carlyle:
Jason poured himself a large cup of coffee and went to the register to pay.
“Mornin’. That be all?” A t-shirt with “KDH Pier” emblazoned across it stretched tight over the cashier’s bosom and round belly, and although she did not have a cigarette dangling out the side of her mouth, both her demeanor and her voice suggested she might have just recently stubbed one out.
Jason dug three ones out of his wallet.
“You on vacation? Haven’t seen you before.” She punched keys on the old-fashioned cash register, took his proffered money, and handed him some change.
Jason hesitated, unsure whether she was being friendly or nosy. After so many years on the west coast, he wasn’t accustomed to strangers asking personal questions. “This is my first time here in 20 years. I just inherited a cottage, so I’ll be around most of the summer.”
“Yeah? Who died?”
Taken aback by her directness, Jason blinked, but was saved from answering by someone lining up behind him.
“Jake, dude, I haven’t seen you forever.” Her husky voice rose slightly as she greeted the person behind him.
Happily stepping aside out of the limelight, Jason turned and came face to face with the young man he’d seen earlier running on the beach. He blanched, realizing why the young man had looked so familiar. He was the masculine version of Summer. His hair was the same shade of rich, dark chestnut, and the high planes of his cheekbones were identical to hers. Even his gesture, as he swept the sweat-dampened hair off his forehead, reminded Jason of Summer.
He could feel his mind churning, trying to process this bit of information. Summer must have a son. Then he reminded himself, this could be a nephew. Or even a cousin.
As if to help him find an answer, the woman behind the counter interrupted his thoughts with her grating voice. “Where’s your mom? I haven’t seen her in forever.”
Jason tried to subtly lean in so as not to miss the young man’s response.
Jake shrugged and pulled on the water he’d just bought. “She’s been busy, I guess. She was at my grandparents’ a few days. Just got back last night.”
“Tell her I said hi and to stop being such a damned snob. She hardly comes around anymore.”
“Sure thing.” The young man turned to leave, rolling his eyes at Jason as he passed. He probably assumed Jason’s dazed expression was entirely in response to the cashier’s inquisitiveness.
He watched Jake walk away. Even his stride reminded him of Summer’s, not to mention his rangy build and long legs.
A husky cough drew his attention back to the woman behind the counter.
“He’s too young for you.” She straightened some straws in a container next to the register.
“What?” Then realization dawned. “Oh, God, no. He just reminds me of someone I used to know.” He took a big gulp of the bitter coffee, and although it burned from both temperature and sheer badness the whole way down, he never flinched.
“Is his last name Ingalls?” Jason tried to sound casual.
“Jake’s? Nah, he’s a Foster.”
Jason heaved a sigh of relief, but before he was finished exhaling, the woman added. “But his mom’s maiden name was Ingalls. Summer Ingalls. You might know her.”
Conscious of his quaking legs, Jason pulled out a stool from under the counter, and sat down with studied casualness lest he collapse on the floor. “How old is Jake?”
She narrowed her eyes at him, as if offended by his curiosity. “I dunno. 19, 20? I barely know how old my own kids are, let alone everyone else’s in Kill Devil Hills.”
Jason didn’t answer but pretended to watch the TV suspended behind the counter while he sipped the gut-burning coffee. His stomach churned, not so much from the disgusting coffee, but from his own suspicions.
Was Jake his son?
Can’t stand the suspense? Need to read more? Grab your copy of ONE SULTRY DAY now.
What Else You’ll Get
Since One Sultry Day is an anthology, that means you’ll get FOUR complete stories. Each one is written by a different author.
Although each one has something to do with summer, they are quite unique and distinct.
You’re a fan of escort services and accidental romances? Escorts for Hire – Heartaches for Free by Deryn Pittar
You like a little mystery or spookiness with your love story? Ghosts of Lost Summersby T.E. Hodden
Love comes in unexpected places, and those are the tales you enjoy reading. You’ll enjoy Unexpected by Sharon Hughson (yes, that’s me)
Still not sure? Come back tomorrow for a peek inside another story.
Enter to Win
There’s a little scavenger hunt. Enter your answers in the Rafflecopter form. The more stops you make and the more answers you give (pages you visit or people you follow) the better your chance to win either:
A $10 Amazon Gift Card or
A digital copy of One Sultry Day
Make sure you check back here tomorrow for another peek inside the anthology of sweet romances. It’s one way to insure there’s a little romance in your summer.
Unlike some couples who have cake and punch with friends, my husband and I headed to a couple theme parks for our wedding anniversary. Normally, I’m not even a fan of theme parks, but since the man offered…who am I to turn away a free trip to Anaheim?
Thursday, we went to Downtown Disney. It was early afternoon and there was basically no line through the check-point. You know, where they search your bags and then direct you through a metal detector? That’s the kind of country we live in *shakes head sadly*
The wonderful world of Harry Potter beckoned on Friday. At Universal Studios, they wrap the entrance line through those chains and ropes (like all the rides do), and you never actually stop moving. So even though it was a huge crowd, we didn’t wait too long to get into the park.
Disneyland on Saturday? It was a nightmare.
The line(s) stretched back to the main street and buses kept dropping people off. There was no clear direction for people, although Disney employees did come out and try to direct people into “people with bags” and “people without bags.”
If my husband, who had no bag, had left me, he probably could have ridden two rides before I ever got through the metal detectors. But he didn’t leave me to survive the disorganization alone.
The mayhem flabbergasted me. It’s not like Disney is new to crowds. Or long lines. How can they have such confusion in a process that Universal streamlined with a few ropes and chains?
Here’s my advice to Disneyland:
Visit Universal Studios when the park first opens. Notice how they have 25 metal detectors spread across the plaza in front of their admissions gate.
Invest in more metal detectors. It’s not like they don’t make enough cash to ease the lineup in this way ($200 for admission, $35 for a t-shirt, $20 for lunch).
Paint some lanes on the ground. Okay, this might look tacky in the Google Earth shots, but when hoards of people circumvented the obvious line, I was thankful we were at the “happiest place on Earth.” Some patrons weren’t impressed with the line-cutters.
Send more employees to direct the flow and organize lines.
We waited close to an hour just to get our bags searched. About the time we got to the front, they were waving people around the metal detector. Get your bags searched, but skip that next step.
If they’re seriously concerned about safety, this felt like a bad move. Someone planning to make the news by terrorizing the Happiest Place on Earth could easily work this system into their nefarious plans.
Once we were waved along without going through the red light/green light gate, we waited another fifteen or twenty minutes for entrance through the turnstiles. At least there were obvious lines here.
Now that Disney is taking photos of every ticket holder and printing out tickets that correspond with that image on their ticket readers, it takes a little longer to get through the gate. I hope that’s helping them catch people who are trying to avoid paying the exorbitant admission price.
Because it certainly isn’t smoothing the admission process.
Disney knows how to line people up so they can fit the most people in the least amount of space and trick them into believing the line is moving right along (regardless of signs warning the wait is 45 or 60 minutes). It’s time they applied that experiential know-how at the front gate.
What other tips might speed things along? Have you had a similar experience at Disney?
Mr. Hughson and I have reached another marital landmark. We recently celebrated thirty years of marriage.
“We’ve been together since way back when.” We actually met in 1982 and became friends in 1983. We started dating in 1985 and spoke our marriage vows in 1988.
I still recall the day. It seems more like fifteen years ago. Time warps the older I get.
He is “Still the One”:
I want to talk to in bed
Who turns my head
Makes me smile
I dream about
That makes me laugh
That’s my better half
Still having fun…and “he’s” still the one
Did you enjoy the flashback to the 70s? They don’t write songs like they used to do it. Thus, those 80s retro hits are becoming fodder for the ears of teenagers everywhere.
But I digress…
For our anniversary, we stayed at the Hilton in Anaheim (where he attended some Geek Man conference all week) and toured the local attractions. I was all about visiting Harry Potter World, but Disney offers a fair share of entertainment,too.
My big plan was new rings.
If you recall, I got a new ring in the Caribbean two years ago. But the mister has been wearing the same band for…you guessed it…thirty years.
I wanted him to get something new. Preferably something with blue diamonds so it “matched” mine.
What do you think?
I also wanted him to buy me a second wedding band so the solitaire would be hugged by the blue and white diamond sparkle. You’d think getting something from a company called Diamonds International would be a simple thing.
Or not. I’ll let you know how that turns out. If it turns out. There was a lot of email tag and some phone tag.
Ring or no ring. Anniversary trip or home bound. In the end, I’m happy to be stuck with this guy for the rest of my life.
Summer is my favorite season. Shortly after Christmas is past, I start wishing for warmer temperatures. Or at least sunny skies.
I have a cousin who would happily leave his Christmas tree up year-round. If there was a symbol for summer, I’d set that baby up and move it to more prominent positions as temperatures dropped.
Seriously. The only good thing about winter is Christmas. I learned that fact in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. Narnia was cursed by the White Witch. How?
It was always winter, but never Christmas.
This entire year has sped by already but summer seemed in constant fast-forward. Can you believe this is the last day of the eighth month of 2017? Tomorrow is the ninth month.
Worst of all, the ninth month will bring the end of summer.
The weather man is predicting warm, sunny days for a few weeks still. But when the sun goes down, the heat goes away.
No more sitting out on the patio in the evening to chill. Unless you want to pull on warm socks, long pants and a sweatshirt. No more s’mores roasting.
Of course, it also means no more air-conditioned house 24/7. Once the temperature drops, you can switch the AC off and throw open the windows.
My husband has already started doing this.
Here’s a recap of my summer:
Writing like a whirlwind in Vancouver, BC
Querying agents at a brand new conference
Choosing a title for the nonfiction I was querying
Getting selected to write Christian romance in a new Kindle World
Installing a water feature in the back yard
Releasing the second book in my Virtual Match Romance series
Barbecuing with the family on the patio
Writing the Christian romance story
Meeting new writers to beta read this new genre
Attending Oregon Christian Writer’s Conference
Making writer friends at the conference
Enjoying a total eclipse of the sun with family
Spending eclipse day with the birthday boy
A quick retreat at my sister’s beach house
Lots of reading in the evenings (but boy did my crocheting suffer)
It doesn’t seem like much when written in a list like this. But it filled three sunny months and made them whip by. My favorite memory from this summer is that it didn’t rain. Only a couple of days were cloudy. After nine months of endless downpours, I needed this three-month reprieve.
Am I ready for the rainy season? Never.
What’s your favorite memory from this summer? Include a picture if my comment section allows it (or jet over to my FB page where you can surely post one in the comments on the post announcing this blog).
Authors take vacations, but sometimes they aren’t for avoiding the keyboard. This author travels occasionally with her engineer husband, and most of the time those are working vacations.
What? It’s not vacation if you’re working.
Maybe you’re right. Or not. The third definition for vacation at dictionary.com says: “freedomorreleasefromduty,business,oractivity.” In this case, I’m freed from my household duties and my regular activities for a specific purpose: to incite creativity.
Creativity and Canada are a decent mix, I’ve decided.
Sometimes I spend too much time inside my office. The lovely walls with all their inspirational sayings and plaques of my book covers move like a trash compactor (picturing a scene from Star Wars IV here).
Even when the sun pushes back the gray clouds, all I see are the words that need to be rewritten or revised or edited. The list of projects in mid-completion expands to block out everything else.
In short, the creative space I’ve slaved to build in my home office (and on my back patio) works against me.
This is when I need a change of scenery. Sometimes going to the coffee shop works. Or I’ve plugged in at the library.
But in light of the daunting tasks facing me in the months ahead, my muse begged for something bigger.
So when my husband told me he had a conference in Vancouver B.C. and asked, “Do you want to come with me?” I jumped on it.
All I was hoping for was a new view outside my window, a touch of sunshine and maybe a little magic in the air.
Several people gave me ideas of things to do while I visited this Canadian city. I smiled and nodded, listening but thinking, “I’m not going there for a relaxing vacation.”
No need to rain on their good advice. I even checked into a bicycle tour of the city because that’s something I’ve decided I will do if I go to Europe with my husband on a business trip. It’s a great way to breathe foreign air and glimpse the local sights, all while stretching the flabby muscles in my legs. Sounds like a win-win-win to me!
The weather app (who needs a weather man when you have a smart phone) advised me that it wouldn’t be sunny during my stay. But the first couple days wouldn’t bring precipitation either.
I could deal with that. I’d be able to get outside and walk along the harbor which is only a block from the hotel. Fresh foreign air: check.
Of course, spending time isolated in a hotel room to write isn’t the same as writing in my office. The maid wants to come in and clean. There isn’t food and water close by to keep me fed and hydrated.
And there are no cats to assist me by climbing in my lap and scrubbing their chin over my typing fingers.
The lobby in the hotel has a small area that would work for writing, but it’s pretty busy, and I’m a person who prefers silence during certain stages of writing.
Was this going to be a bust after all?
Here’s what I wanted to accomplish on this vacation: draft the third installment of my sweet contemporary romance series.
That meant 20,000 words in four days, which is about an average accomplishment for me when I’m in the drafting phase of a story. Five hours of writing per day equals 5,000 words.
Of course, I only had three days in Vancouver. The Monday and Friday of the week were travel days.
Monday was sunny and gorgeous when we arrived. Much better weather than in Portland when we left at 4:30 in the afternoon. My muse perked up her ears and gazed out the window on the cab ride from the airport to the hotel.
Find a place to get coffee and breakfast (sorry, Marriott, I’m not paying $20 to eat breakfast)
Scope out restaurants with great people-watching views for budget-friendly lunches
Set up a snack-stocked writing area at the desk in the hotel room
Oh, Starbucks, how do I love thee? I know plenty of people aren’t fans. Fine. But for less than half the price of the Marriott offering I get a mocha grande (non-fat, no whip) and a yogurt, fruit and granola parfait. Sounds like the perfect breakfast to me.
Better yet? It’s directly across the street from the hotel.
Three blocks down, I locate Waterfront Food Court. Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a mecca of variety in eats and bountiful bodies to watch.
Day one, I enjoy falafel and Greek salad while reading on my iPhone and stealing glances at the people flooding through the seating area. Day two, should I eat salad or grab a slice of pizza?
I love having choices.
I packed healthy snacks in my suitcase, but my husband didn’t want me to starve. So he snagged a bag of pretzels and white cheddar popcorn from the offerings at his conference. (I’m pretty sure the popcorn is for him since I don’t like cheese on mine.)
All three priorities met. Better yet? The walkway along the harbor was better than I imagined. Check it out.
Yes, there are TWO lanes on the path. One of them is for foot traffic and the other is for bicycles (and a few in-line skaters whooshed by, too).
I wanted to share my thoughts on the city, but my post is getting long. Look! A topic for a future post. SCORE!
Is there such a thing as a working vacation for you? Or does it have to be about relaxing and sightseeing?
Some people go on vacation to “get away from work.” Or to experience some new and exciting place. Maybe they want to have once-in-a-lifetime adventures. While I might want a little of those things, sometimes I want to do nothing…and relax.
Relaxation takes many different forms depending on the person.
There are some people who run five miles to relax. Others want to chiropractor to adjust their joints and then they’ll suck down a gallon of water and hang out in a hammock.
In fact, I find many things can be relaxing. For example, I might relax while: getting a pedicure, getting a facial, having a massage, sitting by the pool, reading a book, walking on the beach (or pier or a trail) and even riding horseback. But do I have to do any of those things in order to relax?
Let me phrase this another way: can I kick my stress to the curb without doing anything special?
Like so many other things in life, de-stressing (isn’t that the essence of relaxation?) is all about mind over matter.
As a creative person, my mind is a hive of activity. There are many memes I’ve seen that illustrate this fact, but this is my favorite one:
Because most of the time, if I appear to be staring into space, I’m likely in an alternate universe. One I’m creating and populating with people I’ve dreamed up to face all sorts of situations I’ll never face.
Often my eyes will be closed but my mind will be spinning at a million electric charges per nanosecond. Yep, this old brain is one speedy computer.
Which means it rarely shuts down.
Many authors will tell you they’ve vividly dreamed many of their best stories. They wake up and try to regurgitate the brilliance onto a page before it dissipates with the morning mists.
Yes, even when I’m asleep, mental gymnastics continue.
So how can I ever relax? Where’s the shut-off switch for this thing?
Can I truly rid myself of stress if my thoughts continually roller coaster?
Mind over matter, my friend.
For me, it’s all about WHAT I’m thinking about that determines the quality of my anxiety.
It Doesn’t Matter
In order to dump my stress, I have to actively convince myself that the things hammering away in my brain like an overzealous woodpecker, aren’t important enough to think about. AT THIS MOMENT.
In effect, I convince my mind to reschedule contemplating the stressful items to a later date. Say, Thursday morning…when I’m vacuuming the house.
My query packet for my women’s fiction isn’t ready to submit on June 1. It doesn’t matter. You can think about it May 30th.
Are those sample pages from my nonfiction book enough to convince those agents to request all three chapters? Will they contract me to write the book? Am I ready to delve into the depths of my grief to pen those pages? It doesn’t matter today. I’ll find out in August.
How about creating something new? Maybe just a short piece that you don’t intend to publish? Or the opening scene for the short story you imagined during your girls’ weekend last month.
The cats could be tearing apart the house while I’m staring at the misty horizon at the western edge of the earth.
Look at the shades of blue in the Pacific Ocean and the sky stretching above it. Feel the pounding of the waves against my tattered soul.
The projects and deadlines and considerations for my author world will still be waiting in my office when I get home from this short retreat to the Oregon Coast.
Today, those things don’t matter.
What matters is the taste of the salty breeze, the scattering of seagulls in the surf and the sting of sand blown against my bare calves.
That’s the way I use my mind to subdue the thoughts that would infuse stress into a day meant for relaxation. Does mind over matter work for you? What is your picture of true relaxation?