Tag Archive for: beach

Clicking Our Heels: Our Perfect Writing Atmospheres

Clicking Our Heels: Our Perfect Writing

Some people must write in absolute silence
in a special place.  Some choose to write
outdoors, others prefer to look through a window at water. Some must listen to
music while others need food or beverages. The gang was surprised to discover
what a variety of perfect writing atmospheres we have. Here’s sharing them with
Kay Kendall: Two things are essential.
Quiet and a window. I don’t like to feel too enclosed. I can have soft
classical music playing, but nothing with words. If I hear lyrics, then my mind
gets pulled out of the story I am writing.

Dru Ann Love: When I write my musings,
I prefer the TV on as background noise. If it’s too quiet, my mind wanders.

Linda Rodriguez: I write well in coffee
shops for some reason, so if I’m really under the gun or stuck, I head out to a
coffee shop and work away.

J.M. Phillippe: I prefer something on
in the background – music, or even a familiar movie or TV show. This is all so
I can distract the part of my brain that wants to edit as I go (and thus
completely shut down my writing process). At some point though I get really
into what I’m writing and I have to turn everything off and continue on in
silence. At this point, flow has taken over and my internal editor has already
been vanquished.

Debra H. Goldstein: Perfection is being
able to look up and see a body of water while playing show music. I write in
rhythm to show songs. Each book or story has certain ones I play throughout the

Juliana Aragon Fatula: I love to write
with music playing in the background. Music inspires me and makes me more
creative. My blue tooth allows me to pipe music in the backyard while I mow the
lawn or sit under the grape arbor and the sun/moon porch where I write has huge
windows where I can birdwatch and listen to the chimes in the wind. I write in
bed, in the kitchen, in the living roo and when I want to be alone I write in
the camper in the driveway or in the wilderness.

Bethany Maines: I used to have to be
alone and in “the zone”, but having a kid really forced me to fact that fact
that the perfect circumstances to write would never again be appearing. Or at
least not for another eighteen to twenty-five years and I couldn’t wait that
long. I’ve learned that spending five minutes picking away at a scene is better
than getting no writing done, so if I’ve got five minutes I’d better put some
damn words on the paper. It’s not always that easy, but I try.

Sparkle Abbey:

Anita Carter: I like to write in my
office with my any reference book at my fingertips. I have an adjustable
standing writing desk top, which has helped me to write for longer periods of
time. I wish I had it years ago. I can’t write in complete silence. Too many
years of having kids at home, banging around the house. I like music, a
podcast, or a streaming channel (like Acorn) in the background.

Mary Lee Woods: Hmmm. I do like music
on when I’m writing but because I’m easily influenced by the tone, I have to be
careful with my selections. I love using the streaming services such as
Spotify, Pandora, etc. because I can pick a channel that has a particular
genre. I generally have some sort of tea beside me when I write, iced or hot,
depending on the season. And though I have a window in my office, it’s not a
very interesting view and truthfully when I’m fully into the story, it doesn’t
really matter.

A.B. Plum: My office is my favorite
place to write. I don’t listen to music or wear special clothes or keep a totem
near my computer. Surrounded by books, I love my writing nook.

Shari Randall: I would love to be one
of those writers who hangs out in coffee shops, but I don’t drink coffee and
I’m easily distracted. To write effectively, I need three things: silence, a
boring atmosphere, and my focus candle. A friend gave me this large, pure white
candle, and meditating on its flame for a few minutes before writing puts me in
a great state of mind for writing. The quietest place with the least
distraction is my preferred carrel in the back of my public library’s quiet
study area. It faces a blank brick wall. Perfect. However, it would be even
more perfect if I could bring my focus candle, but they don’t allow open flames
in the library – a quandry, for sure.

T.K. Thorne: I need silence and prefer
to be outside if the weather is nice. I have a front and back porch location.
Having the ocean in view is a special treat. Booming surf does not count as

 Judy Penz Sheluk: I write in my home
office, which is painted Benjamin Moore’s Philipsburg Blue, and listen to talk
radio, even on the weekends, when a lot of the shows are advertorial, i.e.
employment law or how to buy a car or invest money. I get a lot of ideas from
talk radio.

CLICKING OUR HEELS – Mountains or Beach?

Mountains or Beach?

Cathy Perkins: 
“Both!  I live in the mountains
(yeah, I know, tough gig, someone has to do itJ) so the beach is a favorite
getaway.  I love looking out the window
every morning at a scene most people consider a vacation destination but mostly
I love the quiet that comes with living in the mountains – and the wonderful ‘neighbors’
who look out for each other.”

Sparkle Abbey: 
“Absolutely the beach!  Whether it’s
a beautiful blue California beach, or a white sand Gulf beach, or tropical
island beach, we’re there.”

Paffi Flood: 
“Definitely mountains.  I love the
idea of the beach.  I dream about it all
through winter, especially after I see ads for resorts, but after I arrive at a
beach, within minutes, I’m done with the blaring sun and the intruding sand.”

Debra H. Goldstein:  “Beach!! 
Actually, it is the water. 
Swirling waves bring out my creativity and  I don’t if
it’s raining or the sun is out, the key for me is the movement of the water.”

create a peaceful feeling
that I can’t get anywhere else.

Jennae M. Phillippe:  “I used to live in Los Angeles so I am going
to go ahead and say: both!  Because you
can go from the mountains to the beach in a single drive.  It’s a very lovely drive.”

Linda Rodriguez: 
“I’m totally a mountains person. 
I enjoy the beach, but mountains make me so happy I feel as if I could
fly, and I’m always a little homesick for them. 
Probably because I come from a long line of conquered mountain and hill
people – Cherokee, Scots Highland, and Irish.

Bethany Maines: 
“Beach!  Who doesn’t love the feel
of sand between their toes?”

Dru Ann Love: 
“Neither.  Give me a city location
and I’m there.  If I had to choose
between the two, it would be mountains as long as I’m being driven up it.”

Juliana Aragon Fatula:  “Beach. 
Dillon Beach, California.  Two
summers ago, I met my best friend there for two weeks and we workshopped on the
beach her novel and my memoirs.  It was a
learning experience and I realized how much I love writing when I can read or
write all day or night without interruptions from family/day to day chores.  It was a magical visionary time of enlightenment
with someone I love and that loves writing, too.”

Kay Kendall: 
“I must choose the beach since being hemmed in by mountains makes me
uncomfortable, claustrophobic.  That’s
because I grew up on the wide open spaces of Texas and Kansas.  When I’m at the beach, it’s not for
sunbathing.  That’s boring, and I don’t
like to be hot.  I like to walk along a
beach and look for shells.  The beaches
of Oregon are fantastic.  South Carolina

Marilyn Meredith: “I live in the foothills of the
Sierra and can see the nearby mountains from my office window.  My Tempe Crabtree series is set in a mountain
town similar to where I am.”

Water and Writing by Debra H. Goldstein

Water and Writing by Debra H. Goldstein

Why do I write better when I can sit and stare at a beach or lake? What is it about the twinkle of the sun reflecting off water that immediately slows my breathing and empties my mind of worrisome demanding thoughts? Why does a storm’s swirling whitecaps or a boat’s wake sometimes disturb me while at other times energize me?

I don’t know.

I’m writing this from a patio staring at the bay during the last moments of a trip to San Diego. My handwriting is all over the page because other than occasionally glancing down to see where my pen is striking, my eyes are glued to the view. I note a few umbrellas stuck in the sand, tied paddleboats and kayaks bobbing from a pier waiting to be rented, and an occasional cyclist or walker dotting the beach, but mostly I look to where the water and horizon blend.

There are ripples reflecting constant motion, but unlike the ocean side, there are no waves. Light

shimmers across the surface except in dark pockets near the shoreline. Rocks below the surface? Packed sand?

The water is like my writing style. Parts are dazzling, bright, sparkling and wonderful while others
deep and dark. When I look at these competing parts of the water, I marvel at its completeness. And, like the water, I realize the highs and lows of writing are what make me whole.

Not all of writing is perfect. Far from it. The techniques and word choices are often lacking, but the combination of them creates something new every moment.

Being near water energizes and nourishes me – as does my writing. I can’t live without either. Can you?

Always Better in the Retelling

By Evelyn David

Every summer, when my boys were little, we’d head to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware,
for a week of sun and fun. Back then, Rehoboth was a little less honky-tonk, a
little more family friendly than neighboring Ocean City, Maryland.
But to get to this little isle of paradise meant traveling down the New Jersey turnpike
(designed by the devil himself when the traffic is heavy) and then take Route
13, which at the time was a two-lane road. In other words, travel on a slow-moving
parking lot with three kids under ten who have been stuck in the car for hours
and it is no one’s finest hour. That particular summer, the final two hours
stretched to four, and when we arrived at our rental, we were underwhelmed to
be sure. We expected Tara; we got slightly
better than a worn-out trailer.

It had three tiny bedrooms, but oddly enough, the living
room, kitchen, master bedroom and bath were on one side of the house with two
small bedrooms on the other. Running down in between was a screened porch. In
answer to why I didn’t know this before plunking down a week’s rental – the
Internet wasn’t what it is today and there were no virtual tours. The backyard,
which I envisioned as a place for outdoor games post-beach, had been planted with
succulents so it was the equivalent of trying to play catch on a field of

The house was hot, humid, and had a strong mildew odor. But
it was two blocks to the beach, so hubby gamely unpacked the car, and we headed
off for all that fun in the sun. The late afternoon sky was a little dark, but
nothing too ominous, but I should have picked up the hint that all was not well
in paradise when the lifeguards blew their whistles and signaled by touching
their calves, that no one was to go further out into the ocean than about two
feet. Still, the two older boys raced into the water and the little guy, then
not quite two, ran to catch up. Hubby sprinted after him just in time to see
him knocked down by a wave breaking on the shore. He scooped him up, carried
him up to our blankets, and the kid promptly threw up all over us.

We headed back to the house. Using the outdoor shower to
remove the ton of sand we had collected in our 15 minutes on the beach,
involved walking over the succulents, to a chorus of screams, and rinsing off
in ice cold water, accompanied by more screams. Dinner was the usual affair of
complaints about the food and I was more than happy when we’d put all three of
the kids to bed. I couldn’t take much more of this fun. And then the skies opened up.

By opened up, I mean the end of the world, apocalypse kind
of storm. Thunder, lightning, hail, driving rain, tornado-like winds – all
traveling down that screened-in porch. Within seconds, all three boys were
flying into our bedroom and hurling themselves into our bed.

So I did what any logical mother would do. I calmly
announced to my husband that I wanted to go home. I’d had it with vacation.

And my husband did what any logical man would do. He
calmly announced that he had just driven seven hours in a car filled with
mini-terrorists, had paid a small fortune for this place in paradise, and there
was no way on earth that he was getting back in the car the next day to repeat
the adventure in reverse.

It was not our finest moment.

So we settled down to sleep, all five of us in the bed.

And the next morning dawned early and bright. Hubby and kids
headed out the door for the fantastic fresh donuts available scarcely a block
away. Later we strolled down to the beach and built sand castles, jumping the
mini-waves at the shore’s edge as the water was still rough. We had a beach
picnic (the crunch in the peanut butter was from sand), flew kites, walked the
boardwalk, played arcade games.

And we built a treasure trove of family memories, including the one
about the indoor hurricane the first night in Rehoboth.

Vacations are rarely hassle-free. I often felt like I was
the social director on a rocky cruise ship trying to make sure we didn’t run
aground. But when I look back on those days of disasters and triumphs, when I
hear my grown kids howl at the recounting of those family vacations, I wouldn’t
trade one second. Well, maybe the vomiting, but that always elicits such laughs
in the retelling, so maybe not even that.

Share your favorite vacation disaster – and memory.

Evelyn David

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What We Love/Loathe About Summer

Stepping atop a soapbox in stilettos isn’t easy. But the whole Gang has climbed on up, and we’re ready to raise our voices on plenty of different topics. We won’t always agree, but that’s what makes life interesting. And we want to hear what you think, too. So join in our soapbox conversations the second Friday of each month, with a preview today and then regularly beginning in September. Now without further ado, our summer loves and hates…

MAGGIE: I love summer, plain and simple. I much prefer heat to cold. The humidity does wonders for my dessicated Irish skin (not sure if that adjective applies, but you get my drift) and my straw-like, over-processed hair. I love a delicious hamburger fresh from the grill…we hardly ever eat red meat in the fall/winter/spring months so we go to town in the summer. I love a cold margarita and some spicy guacamole. (Ok–how did this turn into Maggie’s Ode to Food and Drink?) I love the riverside concerts in the park that’s walking distance from our house. I love the beautiful pink petunias spilling over the sides of my window boxes. I hate, hate, hate the mosquitoes. I always say that I am the human equivalent of a citronella candle…you don’t want to get bit, come sit by me. I alternately love not having a schedule and hate not having a schedule. I do enjoy not having to make lunches every night, though.

MARIAN (aka the Northern half of Evelyn David): I love, love, love…Snowballs. The Baltimore treat, not to be confused with Italian ices found in New York or orbs thrown at younger siblings. These sweet confections of my childhood were crushed (not shaved) ice, flavored with sweet syrups. My favorite? Chocolate snowball with marshmallow topping and vanilla ice cream (layered). When I was eating them I was too young to worry about the calorie count – and if I could find one now, I wouldn’t care if there were 2,000 calories in the cup, the sheer bliss would be worth it. Roses. I have a black thumb and can barely keep ivy alive. But I love the smell and look of roses and remember, with great delight, the rosebush garden that my mother, the original Evelyn, had in our backyard. The ocean at sunset. There’s something about seeing the sun dip beneath the horizon, the fierce reds and yellows slipping out of sight, that’s inspiring. Sure the sun sets in the winter, but in the summer, after an exhausting, sandy day at the beach, sunset is longer, brighter, later, and means that the nighttime fun can begin. I hate, hate, hate…The humidity. When my hair has its own zipcode, you know it’s summertime and the humidity is back. The wrinkles. I’m not talking about my skin, but my clothes after an hour in that humid summer sunshine. The smells. It’s nice to remember the roses of summer but, not to put too delicate a spin on it, there’s also the fragrant aroma of garbage, and frankly, other people and myself sweating when walking in the Big Apple. In a packed subway? Oy!

MARILYN loves summer because: Lots of kids come over to use the swimming hole in the river behind our house. (I don’t go down there anymore, but it’s great to hear all the happy sounds.) Life’s frantic pace seems to slow down somewhat. My son barbecues for us. But she hates: All the spiders that decide to come out of hiding. We have some of the ugliest critters possible, big and hairy. I don’t have a bit of trouble killing them. The San Joaquin Valley heat. Even though we live in the foothills and it’s always a bit cooler up here, it’s still way too hot. One good thing, it’s usually a dry heat. No rain. Sometimes we don’t get a single rainstorm all summer long. Electric bills. We have solar which helps, but not enough panels to take care of it all.

MISA gives a thumbs-up to: Lack of a schedule: after the crazy school year, no schedule is great! Staying up late and sleeping in: It’s such a treat! Being with the kids. God love ’em! Husband time. Having him around the house is like our newlywed days. Reading: summertime means permission to read more. Misa doesn’t like: Lack of a schedule: it’s hard to get things done with no schedule to keep me on track! Staying up late and sleeping in: If I stay up late, I’m tired in the morning, unless I sleep in, and then I feel as if I’ve wasted important and valuable waking hours. Being with the kids: I need space!! Husband time: see above (kids). Reading: reading more means writing less, which isn’t always good!

RACHEL loves: Having my kids home from school. They are neat people and I like the down-time with them. The beach. I never tire of the sun and surf. Snowcones. Nothing says “cheerful” like brightly colored shaved ice and the smiles they put on my kids’ faces. Concerts in the park. I love live music and being outside. Sandals. They are casual and fun, just like I try to be. Rachel hates: Having my kids home from school. They make a lot of messes and bicker all the time. Plus, they’re really loud. The beach. I’m not sure which is worse, the sand that ends up in my bikini bottom or the sand that ends up all over my van. Snowcones. Nothing but overpriced empty calories here. A blessing and a curse for any frugal, health-conscious Mom. Concerts in the park. You know how after a mosquito bites you, it starts to feel like a thousand of them are biting you now? I hate that. Sandals. Stop looking at my chipped toe nail polish. I was too busy rinsing out my bikini bottom!

RHONDA (the Southern half of Evelyn David) says “the best of summer has always been”…home grown tomatoes, sliced and eaten with a pinch of salt…the sweet taste of Black Diamond watermelons…fresh peaches from local fruit stands…corn on the cob lathered with butter and salt…going barefoot in the grass…floating on an air mattress in a swimming pool or lake…vacations – full days where you can spend your time however you want…hydrangeas in full bloom bringing splashes of color that last for months. And the worst…mowing the yard and needing to do it all over again in three days…temps over 100F and humidity making the air so thick you can barely breathe…the smell of hot asphaltants, mosquitoes, and wasps invading my space…hot car interiorsdelays and congestion from all the road construction work.

As for SUSAN: What I love most about summer is when it’s over and leaves start turning colors, the air gets crisp and tinged with the smell of chimney smoke, and pumpkins everywhere brace themselves for carving! I am such a fall baby!

What about you? What do you love/hate about summer???