When an Idea Comes to Roost and My Anniversary Trip

As an author, my overactive imagination is essential. While we were on vacation, several new story ideas prompted me to spend time on my tablet writing. If you’ve been following my blog, you know this is EXCELLENT and long-awaited news.

This year, we spent our anniversary in Central Oregon and I’ll need to recount some of it to make sense of how story ideas come to roost in my well-rested writer’s brain.

I’ve been suffering with creative burnout. There’s been a ton of bad news from my publisher, too, and that didn’t help. But in April, I conquered my personal goal to write every day and surpassed the word count goal I’d given myself.

That means, I was ready to write!

But what should I write?

Getting Ready to Travel

Camping (or Glamping if you grew up on the ground inside a canvas tent and caught fish so you could eat as a child) is something my husband loves to do. I want to travel and see the country I live in when we retire, but I’m a pretty bad rider. I need to stretch my legs. I need to use the bathroom.

Are we there yet?

But, I can pack up clothes and food for a few days in a matter of minutes. Especially since his mom has their trailer stocked with everything a person could need.

The night before we left, I dreamed vividly about an “dark elf” who fled her evil, conniving father fifty years ago and ended up on Earth. My brain nursed the dream into a full-fledged three book series that would be perfect for my publisher’s new paranormal line.

Monday

I read one of the paranormal books as we drove down. We stopped for lunch in the town where my youngest son lives.
Joy! Lunch with my beautiful granddaughter. Isn’t she the most adorable little girl.

The family

Once we arrived in Sisters and set up camp, I pulled out my tablet and started typing up a storm. I outlined the premise for the series, came up with a few names and sketched out the ideas for the first two books.

I was totally amped to keep working on this idea. I could write three chapters for the first book and submit the series proposal to my publisher. Surely she would be as in love with it as I was.

The weather had been wet for the drive over, but things were clearing up. After I cooked the frozen lasagna and whipped up a salad, we sat down to eat – inside.

We walked around the campground. It’s called Bend-Sisters Garden RV and has the green grass and flowers to merit the name. All the camping spots were filled. A few people sat outside, tempting the weather with campfires.

After we watched a movie, we headed for sleep. After all, the purpose of this vacation was to rest, relax and renew ourselves (oh, and celebrate our anniversary).

Tuesday

I failed to mention that the check engine light came on in my husband’s truck as we pulled the trailer over the Cascades. So he drove to Bend to find out what that meant. Turns out, the truck had a faulty sensor, so they were keeping it to make sure the soot buildup the code promised in the diesel engine wouldn’t cause further issues for us. He had a rental truck, and I needed a few things in town. Off we went to Sisters.

If you haven’t visited here, you really should. It has a quaint downtown with an Old West vibe. If you don’t stop in the shops, it won’t take long to see it all.

They have an ice cream shop that makes its own hard serve ice cream in numerous flavors. We stopped to get some. I had a scoop of chocolate peanut butter (it was delicious), and my husband had a butterscotch milkshake.

Back at the campground, my feet were propped up and I enjoyed the sunshine outside when my next round of inspiration pulled into the camping space across from us.

At first, I thought it was a small camper van. What I knew for sure was that a silver-haired woman was on her own. She bustled around, hooking up the water hose and plugging in the electric. In short order, she set a chair in the sunlight-drenched patch of grass beside her rig.

As I watched from behind my sunglasses, my imagination took off.


You guessed it, another series idea was born. This time, it wasn’t a measly book – or three – but SIX.

This influx of story ideas didn’t keep me from making s’mores when the time was right or laughing through the first half of The Princess Bride before falling into a restful sleep.

Wednesday

The truck went in the shop bright and early, but the rental truck allowed us to load up our bikes for the ten-mile ride my husband plotted using his smart phone.

Let’s blame the phone for the fact that the ride ended up being 15.69 miles. And the “rolling hills” the app described included two steep rises, one too much for our spent legs to pump.

Don’t get me wrong. We like bike rides. We don’t even mind longer ones, but this was the third ride of the season. We generally start with six miles of flat ground.

To make matters worse, we did this in the morning because it was supposed to be a hot day. Since I don’t eat my first meal until 11:30 or noon, I was hangry about the time he told me we were six miles from where we parked the truck.

Happy Anniversary to me.

In the end, it wasn’t a bad ride. But we were happy to chill around the campground until it was time to return the rental and get our truck back.

I typed away on my keyboard, fleshing out the idea for what I decided would be the “Road Trip(ping) Granny” series of contemporary comedic women’s fiction. Think Sisterchicks meets Cathy Lamb. My Granny Jo would be a fearless 70-year-old widow in search of her purpose in this late season of life. She’d be a bastion of wisdom and reality to her three grandchildren (the first three books), a tower of refuge when her sister lost her husband and a shield and chariot for her best friend.

I was excited about writing again. I could hardly wait to get home to my computer and get to it.

Around four, we drove to Bend to pick up the truck. They needed to keep it one more night to test their fixes. (Good thing, too, because it was a faulty sensor that they replaced the next day.)

We had our anniversary dinner at Black Bear Diner. The place was empty so we had great service. My chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and country gravy hit the spot.

Afterward, we drove around, talking a bit about our stifled plans to move to the area, and ended up at a friend’s house. He’s a missionary and has been hosting midweek Bible study in his home since the pandemic.

Back at the campground, we finished watching The Princess Bride and went to sleep. It was hot, and I didn’t sleep so well. The ideas churning in my brain could have been partly to blame, too.

Thursday

Although I expected to be sore from the bike ride, it didn’t happen. We were up early and walking about the campground.

The dealership called before ten to report the truck ready for pick up.

I stayed behind to straighten the trailer and take notes as my inspiration continued her solo activities. I’d really begun to admire her, and we hadn’t even spoken!

Once lunch was over, we headed to our home timeshare resort. We hiked a 2.2 mile trail along the Deschutes River and through some scrub. I didn’t take a water bottle and halfway through, I was thirsty and grumpy. Does that mean I was thrumpy?

My shoes worked a blister on my heel. Thankfully, it didn’t burst and bleed, but I happily eschewed socks and shoes for flip flops for the rest of the day.

Since it was our last night, we planned an easy barbecue meal and a campfire to finish off last year’s s’mores supplies. We’d want fresh before our camping trip at the end of June.

Gran Torino was the movie I’d brought, and I liked it more the second time around. It’s so gritty and realistic. Clint Eastwood did a great job with it.

Homeward Bound

My husband wakes up raring to get home on the last day of vacation, especially when we’re driving. So we were on the road by 9:30 am.

After I finished the series outline, I stared out the window rather than reading. Usually we listen to an audiobook, but hubby didn’t seem to be inclined toward that on this trip (maybe he wasn’t a fan of the fantasy I’d downloaded). Either way, I was happy to let my mind wander through scenarios and plot ideas for the new series.

As we pulled up to our house in the early afternoon, I stared at the dragon flying over my desk. “I’m ba-ack!” I telepathically told the stuffed muse.

Writing is in my blood and bones. Now I have a story to write.

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