Do you remember having to write about how you spent your summer vacation every year when you went back to school? At least in the early years. Back then, my parents had a cottage on the Gull River near Norland, Ontario, Canada. Mostly I’d spend my days swimming, fishing, hiking, water skiing, and boating. We had a 14′ fibreglass boat with a 33HP Evinrude motor, and a small rowboat. I used to love to take the big boat up the river to Moore Lake, anchor it, and read. There were no flies in the middle of the lake to bug me. I also loved to paddle my rowboat with my dog, Sandy, lying by my side (he refused to go in the motor boat). We’d paddle up and down the river for hours, though you had to be careful. There was a strong current leading to Elliot Falls, an open dam and old, no longer functional, hydroelectric plant. Readers of The Hanged Man’s Noose might recognize certain aspects of the location as Camp Miakoda, and they’d be right. I definitely patterned the boot camp location after our cottage, although I did take considerable liberties (my parents were really strict, but they didn’t run a boot camp for young offenders!).
This year, I spent my vacation at our camp on Lake Superior (yes, up here in Northern Ontario, they call them camps instead of cabins or cottages; it makes no sense to me—to my mind, a camp is a tent). Anyway, enough about that! The intention behind this vacation was to read, relax, and get in some quality writing time without the distraction of marketing, editing work, and the endless time suck of social media (though I did post on my personal FB page, so in essence, I cheated a little bit). Here are some of the highlights:
Gouais River Parade: We’re talking a fire truck, some pickup trucks driven by local business, and a clown or two, but great fun if you had kids or grandkids, because everyone in the vehicles threw candy out the windows. It’s like Halloween, without having to go door-to-door.
Chippewa Falls Arts & Crafts Festival: Here I met a local author, Mary-Lynn Murphy. Of course I had to buy her book, Finding Grace, which is set in Toronto and Northern Ontario. I regret not getting a photo of her, with her book, which you can find on Amazon, should you care to look for it.
Spectacular Sunsets: My favorite pastime. Truly soul-soothing, especially if you’re sipping on a nice glass of champagne or chardonnay. The water changes constantly, going from whitecaps to smooth as glass.
Watching for Bears: Yes, mama bear and three cubs came to visit once or twice, and we often saw them while walking Gibbs. I learned to walk with a bear bell and a small boat horn. Thankfully, I didn’t have to use the horn, as mama would wander away quietly, babies following.
Reading: I made a dent in my ever-growing To Be Read pile, finishing Avalanche by Kristina Stanley (5 stars), three books by Scottish mystery writer M.C. Beaton (if you haven’t discovered Hamish McBeth, you must!), and starting Roses for a Diva by Rick Blechta (paperback) and Should Have Played Poker by Debra H. Goldstein (Kindle on iPad). I always have at least 2 books on the go. For outdoors, here, paper is best. Based on what I have read of Diva and Poker (I’m about midway on both) I would highly recommend either.
Writing: I really wanted to work on the sequel to The Hanged Man’s Noose, so I had what I’d written printed and coil-bound at Staples, and asked them to put 75 blank pages at the end. Every afternoon, I’d take that book out on the deck and write a chapter or two. I’d transcribe it the next morning on my iPad. I’ve never done this before but it was amazing how much I wrote in a couple of hours each day. I’m not finished A Hole In One (the murder takes place at the Miakoda Falls Golf and Country Club), but I’m a lot closer than I was, and I think I just may have found a new way to write. There’s something about pen and paper …
And that’s how I spent my summer vacation.