Writing Retreat: Part II

My summer vacation on Lake Superior comes to an end tomorrow, when I head back home, Gibbs in tow for the 7 1/2 hour (mostly scenic and peaceful) drive. Mike will stay up until sometime in August doing the zillion projects he has on the go — build a gazebo, split wood for kindling, stack firewood (we have electric baseboard heat but mostly use the wood stove to heat when necessary), move rocks, plant perennials…his list goes on!

For me, Monday is back to reality — my “summer” reality which involves walking and playing with Gibbs, a lot of golf (we live in a golf course community), working as the Senior Editor for New England Antiques Journal — we’re starting September issue if you can believe that — doing some volunteer work as part of my duties on the Board of Directors of Crime Writers of Canada, and of course, getting back to writing crime fiction.

I thought I’d do a lot of writing here, as I did last fall, and while I did get some writing done, most of it is in rough form as I scribbled in a notebook (see picture above) while watching the lake. At first, I beat myself up about it. I should be writing hours every day in this magical place, not daydreaming the days away. And then I thought…I’ve finished writing 2 books this year (one comes out March 2018, the other TBD) started 2 more, and completed 1 short story with a solid idea (developed here) for another. I told myself, it’s okay to take a 2 1/2 week break. And so, I did. And I enjoyed every sunset. (If you remember the late great singer/songwriter Warren Zevon, you should Google his interview with Dave Letterman when he says “Enjoy every sandwich.” Wise words.)

As for the books I read, they are as diverse as the landscape and lake that surround me.

SINCE WE FELL by Dennis Lehane (Suspense) 4 Stars. The first half is great. The second half stretches the realms of plausibility to the breaking point. But Lehane’s prose and characterization are, as always, perfection. But it’s not as good as Mystic River (also a great movie) or Shutter Island (terrible movie)– my two favorite Lehane novels.

STARTING OVER: A Trina Ryan Novel by Sheri S. Levy (YA — was sent an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 5 Stars!) If you know a kid who loves dogs or horses, be sure to pre-order this now. August release by Barking Rain Press.

FACEOFF: A collection of short mystery stories where well known ITW authors Β and one of their characters “face off” — my favorite was Jeffrey Denver’s Lincoln Rhyme vs. John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport in “Rhymes with Prey.” Each story is introduced by David Baldacci (editor) who tells us a bit about the authors’ works, how they collaborated etc. I plan to read MATCHUP, the next ITW collection of short stories, soon. 4.5 Stars. I’d give it 5, but there were a couple of faceoffs I didn’t enjoy…bound to happen in any anthology. This is one of the best I’ve read.

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr — Won the Pulitzer for fiction – – this is one thick book and I just started it, but so far, I’m hooked. I take comfort in the fact it took him 10 years to write it. Maybe he had a place on the water…

Gibbs enjoying the sunset.



23 responses to “Writing Retreat: Part II

  1. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Micki, I’ll be interested in what you think about Since We Fell.

  2. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Yeah, and California and your endless sunny days…and warm…and no snow! And the ocean πŸ™‚

  3. I loved All the Light We Cannot See. The Dry is also a fabulous read. I’m looking forward to Since We Fell. Personally, I think you had a fabulous vacation!

  4. Kristina Stanley

    I found that too at the cottage. Lots to do that’s fun!

  5. Such a gorgeous location. I envy you!

  6. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Yes, and have had too many liquid calories up here!

  7. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Yes, daydream = work for writers! I love it Vickie!

  8. Lovely post, Judy! I live about a block from Lake Superior on the Michigan side. Aren’t we lucky?! (P.S.: Writers are working when we daydream!)

  9. vweisfeld.com

    fewer calories!

  10. Judy Penz Sheluk

    We both will, but I do find the last couple of days, he has been getting antsy. He needs his routine back. We both do πŸ™‚ And we’ll be back in the fall.

  11. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Thank you! Got your newsletter “cake” — found it hard to eat πŸ™‚

  12. Judy Penz Sheluk

    That’s right, I’d forgotten that about you. It’s beautiful country up here.

  13. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Kristina, it’s odd, but I find it easier to write in my home office — no distractions!

  14. Janice J. Richardson

    Gibbs will miss the lake. πŸ™‚

  15. vweisfeld.com

    And, happy birthday!!

  16. vweisfeld.com

    Recall I’m a native Michigander! A friend is participating in the Chicago-to-Mackinaw sailboat race, which starts tomorrow, has us thinking “northward”!

  17. Kristina Stanley

    This is making me dream about going t o a lake and writing!

  18. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Vicki, We are about 45 min. NW of Sault Ste. Marie. The U.S. side of the Soo is the Upper Pensinsula.

  19. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Thanks Beth. I wish Sheri’s book was a mystery…I would recommend it highly, but it’s not. I’ll try to get the word out about your reading group.

  20. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Thanks Susan, I love that description: a hazy sort of schedule. Yes, fall/winter is best for me as well, probably because the weather isn’t begging me to come outside and play.

  21. vweisfeld.com

    Sounds like some fantastic and respectably productive weeks, considering! What portion of the Lake Superior shore do you and Gibbs haunt?

  22. Great post, Judy. Vacation should be spent in contemplation? You were prolific in writing this past year. Love to hear about your volunteering which I also enjoy. This summer one of my tasks is to help Malice with children’s nominations. Any children’s and YA mystery reader are welcome to join our reading group. You pick any or all pub. in 2017 . Let me know. Beth Schmelzer. You are welcome to share my email to interested readers!

  23. Great post, Judy. When life has a hazy sort of schedule, all is right with the world. I do more writing in fall-winter, and this year I’m turned around. Trying to write in the summer when grandchildren are here is not working well.

We love comments!