Tag Archive for: camp

Writing Camp or Writing Work in Iowa

Writing Camp or Writing Work in Iowa by Debra H. Goldstein

Fun – Freedom – Frolic are all things children experience when they attend summer camp.  I recently had these same experiences plus a constant writing high when I spent ten days as a student at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Everyday responsibilities and obligations faded and were forgotten while I took classes in setting, conflict, and characterization in genre.

The courses combined limited lectures, writing assignments, and critical workshopping. What was probably the most surprising thing is that as much as I learned from my three excellent teachers, I can’t even begin to explain how much I benefited from hearing my work and that of my fellow students evaluated by my teachers and classmates. Their critiques were kind, but nothing was sugarcoated.

Considering how writers often are often upset by bad Amazon or Goodreads reviews, one would think constant writing exercises and critiques would be demoralizing, but they weren’t.  Rather, they were invigorating.  The combination of learning, translating new knowledge into writing, and being given the tools to improve our work product was exciting.

During the ten days I was in Iowa (which really is flat), I was thrilled Kings River Life published my short story, Exotic, ( http://kingsriverlife.com/07/04/exotic-a-mystery-story/ ), Bethlehem Writers Roundtable informed me that its September/October 2015 issues will contain my short story, That’s Where I Buried My Wives, and Five Star sent me the first jpeg cover of my new book, Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery (coming February 2016).  By the time I finished my three workshops, I realized that the goal of learning was accomplished but better yet, I came up with new pieces – a few of which I bet will find homes in the next year.  Not a bad result from going to camp.

Trust Yourself

By Evelyn David

My son got married a week ago. His bride is everything I could hope for. It was a beautiful wedding, held outdoors in a gorgeous setting (see photo left). It rained five minutes before the ceremony was to begin, but stopped fairly quickly. The hotel staff dried the seats and a rainbow emerged just before the bridal procession began. Blessed indeed.

During the dinner, my son gave a brief speech that left me close to tears. He thanked his bride’s parents for the warm, loving welcome to their family, then turned to thank my husband and me. Surprisingly he made special mention of an event that had happened 20 years earlier.

It was his first time at sleep-away camp. He was scheduled for a four-week session, but on Parents Visiting Day, two weeks in, he said he hated it and wanted to come home. We spent several hours trying to convince him to stay, and finally agreed that if he still hated it in a week, we would pick him up. He thought that was fair and to be honest, since even he acknowledged that he was actually enjoying himself at least some of the time, I felt sure that he would decide to remain the last two weeks. But seven days later, he called to say he wanted to come home and my husband duly drove two hours each way to retrieve the reluctant camper. A deal was a deal.

I got a fair amount of criticism from other parents when I told them the story, but my gut instinct was that this was what our son needed. Conventional wisdom about making him “tough it out” didn’t fit my child. So I was especially touched when in his wedding speech, our son talked about the love and support we’d always given him, including he laughed, picking him up from camp.

What does all this have to do with writing? It’s to trust your instincts when it comes to your characters and the stories you have to tell. Ignore the conventional wisdom about what works and what doesn’t, what’s currently popular and what’s not. Create the world that works for you. You know YOU best. Believe in your talent, creativity, and determination, even when, or especially when, faced with criticism or rejection.

Trust your gut. Who knows? You might even get thanked later.

Marian, the Northern half of Evelyn David


 Kindle e-book – http://tinyurl.com/ZonedK

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries – e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past CemeteriesKindleNookSmashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah KindleNookSmashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of LottawatahKindleNookSmashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- KindleNookSmashwords
A Haunting in Lottawatah – Kindle – NookSmashwords
Lottawatah Twister – KindleNookSmashwords
Missing in Lottawatah – KindleNookSmashwords
Good Grief in Lottawatah – KindleNookSmashwords
Summer Lightning in Lottawatah – Kindle NookSmashwords
Lottawatah Fireworks – KindleNookSmashwords
Leaving Lottawatah – KindleNookSmashwords

The Ghosts of Lottawatah – trade paperback collection of the Brianna e-books
Book 1 I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries (includes the first four Brianna e-books)
Book 2 – A Haunting in Lottawatah (includes the 5th, 6th, and 7th Brianna e-books)
Book 3 – Lottawatah Fireworks (includes the 8th, 9th, and 10th Brianna e-books)
Book 4 – Leaving Lottawatah (includes the 11th Brianna e-book and some special features.)

Sullivan Investigations Mystery series
Murder Off the Books KindleNookSmashwordsTrade Paperback
Murder Takes the Cake KindleNookSmashwords Trade Paperback 
Murder Doubles Back KindleNookSmashwordsTrade Paperback
Riley Come Home (short story)- KindleNookSmashwords
Moonlighting at the Mall (short story) – KindleNookSmashwords



And Away We Go…

I keep thinking about Marilyn’s post from either last week or the week before where she talked about what it was like to grow up in Los Angeles before it became “LA” or the “Left Coast.” A much simpler time, she would often take a book, lounge under a tree in front of a stranger’s house and relax for an afternoon. I commented that we used to get thrown outside for the day after breakfast—and without sunscreen (that’s how long ago that was!)—and play with the twenty or thirty kids in the neighborhood, careful of the ones who had their licenses and tooled around the hood in cars or even worse, motorcycles. One summer, during an Olympic year, we set up an elaborate obstacle course and held Olympic trials that everyone participated in and which included such events as the limbo, the hide-and-seek tournament, and the hurdles. Everyone took turns and almost everyone bettered their score as the summer progressed. Elaborate scorekeeping was definitely part of the process.

Our kids are heading off to camp. When I was a kid, nobody I knew went to camp. With twenty or thirty kids in the neighborhood, who needed camp? We could run around outside, unfettered, for hours. Danger didn’t lurk around every corner like it seemingly does these days, and everyone had a great time. But now, once the winter semester is over, mothers (mostly) talk about what their kids are doing for the summer, who knows the best camps, where you can find the most reliable transportation to camp, who’s going to Bronx Zoo camp, who’s going to sleepaway camp for seven weeks, etc. For the past few summers, child #1 has been going to sleepaway camp for twelve days with her best friend, whose brother joined them last year. And this year, child #2 will join the group and attend with them for mini-session #2, which is a twelve day stay at a very rustic, yet charming, camp on a lake not terribly far from here.

God bless hubby’s heart because he’s done most of the camp preparation. Camp preparation includes stamping every piece of clothing—and that includes EVERY sock—with the child’s name, just in case they send their laundry out during the twelve days that they are at camp. A trip to Target last week netted a cache of $337.00 worth of camp supplies—body wash, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, a new trunk for child #2, extra bathing suits, extra underwear, and extra socks—most of which I’ll never see again, I imagine. Right now, husband is washing sheets and pillowcases so that they can be stowed in the trunk. They will return as they have in the past, but I guarantee you that they will smell like a combination of earth, mud, moisture, and sweat. Everything that returns from camp does and has to be washed repeatedly until it smells like home again.

The kids return smelling that way, too, incidentally.

Child #2 is very excited but if not a bit nervous. But being as he is extremely gregarious and would talk to a brick wall, I’m not terribly concerned. I keep telling him, “It’s twelve days. It’s not even two weeks. And you’ve got your sister, and her best friend, and her best friend’s brother. You’ll be home before you know it.” Maybe I’m just trying to convince myself?

The camp phenomenon is relatively new to me. I do have good friends who attended camp every summer, all summer long and they are wistful for their time there. I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on anything but when my friends get talking about “color wars” and camp sing-alongs, I wonder what it must have been like to pack up at the beginning of the summer and leave home and kin to spend the summer with people who they still remain friends with.

Did you go to camp? What are your best memories? What, in essence, did I miss?

Maggie Barbieri