How I Spent My Summer Vacation

imageDo 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:

imageGouais 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.
imageSpectacular 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.


imageWatching Gibbs love the water: At nine months old, he’d never seen water like Superior. He was timid at first, but after a day or so, he wanted to swim for hours on end.image

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.

imageWriting: 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.

15 responses to “How I Spent My Summer Vacation

  1. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Well he did devour one of my magazines..and by that I mean, he ate it! I guess he is a voracious reader, but not much of a writer.

  2. Ellen velletta

    Judy….we want to know when Gibbs is starting his first book

  3. Judy Penz Sheluk

    I do like to read in order, if I can. I am reading Hamish out of order.

  4. Grace Topping

    I would recommend starting with the first in the series, “Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death.”

  5. Grace Topping

    Yes, definitely check out M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series. Agatha is such a disagreeable and unusual character you can’t help but like her. She isn’t your usual likable main character.

  6. Judy Penz Sheluk

    It was idyllic…well, could have done without the bears! Very interesting re the paper/pen vs. keyboard. What I found most interesting is that I went off in a direction I never expected. I am a pantster, but this was even more than usual. It was a great exercise. And writing on the dock was very soothing.

  7. Judy Penz Sheluk

    I have not read the Agatha Raisin series. I shall look for that as well. I think, with pen and paper, you tend to deliberate a bit more before you write it down. But honestly, I don’t know how they did. Even the typewriter. Remember liquid paper!

  8. Judy Penz Sheluk

    I did think it was rather clever 🙂

  9. Judy Penz Sheluk

    It was lovely. I would have liked to spend a few more days, but there’s that four letter word (WORK) and I really don’t want to turn it into a place where I work (outside of writing, which is my passion). Your vacation looked amazing as well!

  10. Judy Penz Sheluk

    I don’t know why I hadn’t discovered Beaton before, but it’s like getting a box of chocolate, finding a new author who has written several books. The perfect beach read.


    Sounds idyllic! I think when you write with pen and paper, it slows you down so you have time to think more. It will be interesting to see if the sections you did “by hand” have more staying power than the heavy editing that keyboarded text–mine, anyway!–sometimes needs. You’ve probably read that studies that show students who take lecture notes by hand do a better job and capture more than those who use their laptops. Couple reasons for that–I’ve audited classes as Princeton and laptop users are on Facebook part of the time. But also, the process of going from ear to brain to hand apparently requires more processing. So you’re already thinking about whatever-it-is more from the first effort to record it.

  12. Grace Topping

    Your vacation sounded divine — a quiet place away from home surrounded by nature with a stack of books and time to write. I love M.C. Beaton’s books, including her Agatha Raisin series. They are always fun.

    Writing using paper and pen. It makes you wonder how writers like Jane Austen managed to write such long and wonderful books–and by candlelight. Just the idea of having to revise drafts with a quill pen would deter you from making any changes. Thank goodness she did.

  13. What a fabulous idea about the printed off book with the additional pages! Love it! For editing you could do it one sided (edited part on the back of pages) and have the blank pages at the back for more changes. Thank YOU! I will use this!

  14. Sounds like the perfect vacation!

  15. What a lovely place to spend your summer vacation! I have steadily been reading M.C. Beaton this summer too.

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