Category Archives: Monday Blogs

Mud to Magic

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APRIL–MUD SEASON FOR STOWE, VT

As most of you know, especially those who’ve followed this blog for while, my writing haven is in Stowe, VT. We’ve had a home there for seven years, and aside from spending a large part of winter up there, we usually go up for a month in the summer, but this year will be different. Yep, we’re actually going up during mud season. All the snow is melting, and our dirt road will be a sloppy mess, and everywhere else will probably be the same.

Why in the world would we go up during the messy, mud season?

Simple answer: Because we want to. Plus, with the temps on the rise up there, the mud shouldn’t last too long.

Our house in Stowe is a haven no matter the season, no matter the weather, no matter the mud.

After being gone for a few months, I’m missing it so much–the smells, the woods, the local food, the wonderful maple syrup that’s dripping into buckets as we speak, the quiet, the peace. Vermont hits all the senses at once and it’s simply amazing. And after a tough last month, it’s exactly what I need.

Taken from Mountain Road looking toward the village.

Every time I prepare for the travel up to Vermont from South Carolina, people ask me about the drive. So here’s how I do it:

I load the passenger seat with bad-for-you snacks, which includes: sandwiches, chips, cookies, candy, and of course, a thermos full of coffee. In my opinion, when it comes to a very long road trip, calorie and sugar intake don’t matter. I mean, come on, I never allow myself to have Pop Tarts, Oreos, Cheetos, and, Sour Patch Kids, much less all in one day, so a road trip is the perfect excuse to indulge on some junk.

My dogs, Winston and Churchill, are always good little boys on the drive up. They chill in their super-cool doggie car seats, while watching the traffic go by or sleeping. We stop a lot along the way and make it a fun adventure. I leave around 2:30 in the morning and I arrive by 9:30 at night, which makes it’s around an 18 hour trip. I like to get it done and over with in one day. With the aid of all those snacks and coffee–plus, talk radio, audiobooks, and music–I’m good to go. Honestly, I enjoy it.

Winston chillin' on the ride up.

Winston chillin’ on the ride up.

Churchill being cool in his bed.

Churchill being cool in his bed.

Once I’m there, I have major editing to get done, and Stoweaway (the name of our house), always provides the motivation and inspiration I need. This time of year is perfect for raising the windows and letting in the fresh mountain air. I’ll take strolls in Stowe Village, which is my inspiration for The Christmas Key, and I’ll stop to write at Black Cap Coffee or Cafe on Main. I’ll, no doubt, take a look in Bear Pond Books to see what’s new on the “Vermont Writers” shelf, imagining my book there one day. With a November release date, it a wonderful feeling knowing that’ll happen sooner than later.

Bike rides on the Stowe Rec Path is a great way to get exercise, but taking a break at a picnic table to jot down story ideas is the best part of the ride. Hearing The Little River run over the rocks and listening to the sounds of nature does wonders for the imagination and storylines. And, by the way, Edelweiss Mountain Deli is a great place to pick up a delicious sandwich to take with you on a hike up the mountain or a ride/walk on the rec path.

After a long day of writing, walking, and biking I love to cook in at home. That means a stop at Stowe Seafood to get either a nice piece of fresh fish (any kind you can think of) or a beautiful steak. Seriously, this place is pure awesomeness!  They not only have fish and meat, but a selection of wines, pastas, local baked goods, and many other yummy delectables. It’s one of my favorite places in Stowe to shop for dinner. I’m also very excited to try out Commodities Natural Market this trip. They weren’t open yet when I was there this past winter. I hear wonderful things and I’m sure I’ll be there frequently.

We’ll also be celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary while we’re up there, and Stowe is a wonderful place to plan a romantic evening. We’ll probably go up to Hourglass at Stowe Mountain Lodge for early cocktails, and then work our way down to the village, where we may hit La TrattoriaThe Roost , Sushi Yoshi, and The Whip. We’ll end up at the place where we’ve decided to enjoy our anniversary dinner, PLATE, which is a new place on Main Street in the village. The ambiance, cocktails, and food are spectacular! Then, after indulging in a rich, fabulous dessert (at least I will), we’ll go back to Stoweaway’s four season room and have an aperitif by the fire. That, my friends, is perfection.

Stowe, Vermont–a special, special place where I can mix a lot of work with a lot of pleasure.

I leave Wednesday and I can’t wait! This trip is all about renewal, writing, editing, and love–my favorite things. I plan on turning all the mud into magic.

Until next time…

Everyday meditation:

Love life. Be Kind. Be genuine. Eliminate the negative, false, and vain. Peace, love, and happiness to all. 

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Filed under April 2015, Monday Blogs

Simple Can Be Great

One minute: “Oh, I love this.”

Next minute: “Ugh… this is utter crap.”

Three minutes later: “Wait, maybe it’s not too bad.”

Six minutes after that: *Crumbles paper and throws it across the room* OR *Delete… Delete… Delete…*

Every single writer I know has had this moment a few hundred thousand times, if not more. It’s exhausting to question every word we write. It can be excruciating. I tend to pace the floor as I talk out loud (or scream) at my characters, while pulling my hair out at the root.

Pace… pace… pace… scream.

Yes, I know if I chill out, not force it, the words will work themselves out, but of course, it takes me going through the screaming and pacing drama to get me to the other side.

pull hair out

Thankfully, I have random days when it seems all the stars are in alignment, and the rays of writerly-love shine upon me, at the perfect angle, and every word that pours from my fingers is pure gold. Those are the days I do a snoopy dance and sing the love of words loud and proud for everyone to hear.

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Boom… Boom… Boom… here they come. From a distance, almost as soon as I catch my breath from dancing, I can hear the rumble of their feet. Remember those doubt demons I spoke about in a post a few months ago? They creep up on me and loom overhead like storm clouds.

Then, the trigger–the one thing that sends me spiraling down, down, down, from my high of golden words.

Why did I have to get online and see that post where someone shares their complex, deep, dark, words–the ones that blow my words right out of the water and makes them seem menial and small? Then, I see someone boast about how their writing IS NOT simple and, “how dare someone tell me I write in such a way!”

Here I am, staring at my story in all its simplicity.

Is this such a horrible writing crime? Is simple shameful?

I face-plant the computer keyboard. Now… cue the tears and wails. Well, that’s a little overboard, but you get my drift.

After a few moments (probably more like hours or maybe even a few days) of self-deprecating arguments with myself, I put on my writing armor and fight my way back to the love of my story… my simple, yet engaging, story.

Does a story have to be complex, dark, deep and/or use large intertwined words to be called “fabulous”, “great”, “fantastic”, and all those other phenomenal descriptions?

In my opinion, no. I know there are those who disagree with me and that’s okay. To each their own, right?

I like to read a well-written, simple story. To me, it’s enjoyable. Does that make me less of a reader? Absolutely not! Don’t get me wrong, I also love a well-written, complex story. The key obviously being “well-written”. When done right, simple AND complex, have their place in this large world of words.

If that’s the case, why do I beat myself up for writing simply? Why do I let other people’s complex work stab the innermost, vulnerable part of who I am? Is it because those are the books that seem to get the most press? The most mentions? Or am I just being mean to myself and allowing the doubt demons have their way with me? Could it be plain ol’ insecurity? Yeah, probably all of the above.

I need to remind myself that simple writing doesn’t mean generic, unoriginal, or lacking in depth. Simple can be great. Simple can be big. Simple can reach millions of people and be loved by the same.

Okay, with all of that being said, it’s time for me to make myself perfectly clear:

I am damn proud of the stories I’m working on– I mean super-duper, hold my head high, proud. I love the storylines, the characters, the settings. I refuse to let what I read on social media, or elsewhere, bring me down and make me feel less of a writer because it’s not a “certain way”. I look forward to interacting with the readers who fall in love with the stories and characters just as I’ve written them. They are penned from a genuine heart that thoroughly enjoys the process, even the difficult, disheartening parts.

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I say, let us not put down the simple or the complex. Let’s just all get along and praise the time, the heart, the love, the sweat, and the tears that go into each and every word bound by the spine of authorship.

Until next time…

Everyday meditation:

Love life. Be Kind. Be genuine. Eliminate the negative, false, and vain. Peace, love, and happiness to all. 

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Filed under March 2015, Monday Blogs