How do you spell summertime? V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N. Sometimes it means a long weekend away, sometimes, several weeks—or more, if you’re lucky. Local or exotic, by the day or by the week, the time away from the daily grind is important not only for the fun or relaxation you plan to have, but also for your creativity.
This hit home for me after a recent vacation trip. I’ll admit it: I’m a work-a-holic, and the thought of taking time off, away from my desk and my plugged-in life, seemed a waste. I do take my weekends off (for the most part), so what more break did I need?
It turned out that the six days away—six days, to paraphrase Monty Python, of something completely different—were just what I needed to reset my mental stress levels. Instead of sitting at my desk, worrying about my next deadline, I was out on the lake in a wood-strip canoe or attending a lecture on the indigenous history of the Adirondacks or walking the woods with fellow birders as the sun rose.
On purpose, I kept my online activity to a minimum, and I resisted the temptation to check in with my team at work. I had committed to the time off and I was going to keep that promise!
Being in a different setting also sparked writing ideas. I wasn’t brainstorming on purpose—just letting the thoughts flow, set into motion by the act of doing something outside of my usual routine.
When I returned home, work was waiting for me—the emails to answer and the projects to complete—but the otherness of being away lingered. I continued to feel relaxed as the days spooled by. That restfulness won’t last, of course. But when it comes time to plan the next vacation, I won’t be as hesitant to pull out the maps and start planning.
What’s your favorite kind of get away to recharge?
I have a long history with trains.
Ever since I rode with my mom in a fancy private train compartment overnight (my dad’s company was paying for it) when I was a kid, I’ve loved train travel. The mystery, intrigue, the lulling clackety-clack of the train rolling down the tracks, taking you to a new adventure.
I’ve ridden on fast trains, slow trains, subways here and abroad, always enjoying the journey itself. So it’s no wonder I wrote a time travel where the heroine goes back in time aboard a train.
I’m in the middle of finishing up the edits, so time is a bit scrunched this month, but I wanted to share with you this “blast from the past.” I believe I was on a Swiss train in the picture, but the only old train ticket I could find quickly was a ticket to Paris when I lived in Pisa.
Here is an Instagram post I thought you might enjoy.
And I’m participating in a promotion this month with Aileen Harwood’s Bookwrapt promos. Here’s where the planes come in: my novella in the book fair is COME FLY WITH ME about a girl who meets a guy at 30,000 feet on New Year’s Eve and sparks fly! Just 99 cents. Some fabulous prizes! CLICK HERE for info and to enter.
Gotta go back to editing…exciting times ahead!
August is romance awareness month.
Not sure why someone picked this month when half the world is on holiday with the family or wishing they were. Not enough time for romance when you’re watching the kids in the pool or trying to wave down a taxi in London with a toddler in your arms.
To me, romance should be about cool breezes and fruity drinks on a sexy, tropical island with lots of down time, sarongs, and him shirtless. Ah, yes… (see below)
We all need romance.
The subtle flirting of a cocked eyebrow raised in your direction, a low growl from the back of his throat when he sees you in your bikini, cuddling together under a blanket and playing footsies. Mood changers, for sure. That certain connection that doesn’t come in a bottle. The “feel good” hormone. I talked to a woman in Starbucks recently waiting for her Internet date. When I asked her why she’d meet up with a guy she didn’t know, she said, “I wanted a little romance in my life.”
I so understand. However, the good thing is, if you’re between boyfriends or dates, you can pick your romantic destination as easily as picking up a romance novel. As writers, we get to experience both creating and writing about our heroes.
Works for me….
It’s the reading month of May!
In case you didn’t know it, May is #GetCaughtReadingMonth, so I decided to challenge myself to do “a graphic a day with someone reading a book.”
I’m a third of my way through the month, and I’m hanging in there. So for this month’s blog, I’m going to post some of them for your viewing and reading pleasure.
First, here’s a graphic I really love because it says so much about how lucky we are to choose what we read.
Which brings me to my own version of the Endless Summer
When I was thirteen, I spent my free time in the old library by the beach with its dusty shelves and cracked, wooden floor. It was the summer I discovered boys and surfing.
And the library’s adult section.
Reading everything I could find there. Romance sagas in hardback, mysteries with provocative covers. Adventure stories girls weren’t supposed to read.
Until a lady wagged her finger at me and told me to go back to the kids’ section.
Even then I knew I wanted to write, and to write what was in my heart, I needed the freedom to discover all kinds of writing.
Enjoy the freedom to choose what you want to read!
By the way, I didn’t listen to her and kept sticking my Irish nose wherever I smelled a good story…
So for #GetCaughtReadingMonth, here are some of the graphics I’ve posted so far:
And finally, since it’s prom month:
Ever wanted to be Prom Queen?
Kaylee is tired of being bullied by the Duchess in Crystal Girl and sells her soul to get thin
Here’s the story of Kaylee and her promposal . . . from a hottie devil!
CRYSTAL GIRL: Kindle & KU: http://a.co/ipzidx8
The Dog Days of Summer isn’t just an expression that indicates summer days so hot dogs are driven mad. It’s an actual astronomical event when, Sirius, the dog star rises in conjunction with the sun. The Dog Days are listed as starting on July 3rd and continuing through August 11th.
In my family, the Dog Days of Summer marked the beginning of birthday season. I have three brothers and three sisters. Then there are my children, nieces and nephews, in-laws (or as we insist out-laws) and now the grandchildren and grandnieces and grandnephews. A significant number of them have birthdays in July and August.
Birthdays around our place were always a bit different. With so many relatives we seldom had friends to our birthday celebrations. We rarely severed cake but rather baked from scratch (including the crust) birthday pie. There were favorites – quite a few apple pies, pumpkin (made three days ahead of the feast and refrigerated to the proper coldness), lemon meringue, peach, and rhubarb for my mother.
And when my mémère (French for grandma) was alive, if it was your birthday, you got your nose buttered. It was supposed to make you side through the year to your next birthday.
Now Mémère assured us this was an old French custom, but I never met any other family who practiced nose buttering –even the few friend of mine when we were growing up who also had a mémère and pépère.
So, a few years ago I googled it. Sure enough, other families butter noses, but the articles I read listed the custom is either Scottish or Irish. I suspect Mémère would be upset by these claims as she was very proud of her French ancestry even though the family arrived in the New World well before there was a United States. She and Pépère spoke French at home, and my dad and his siblings didn’t learn English until they went to school.
I must admit that she frequently got things wrong. She was also very proud of being born on June 13th and every year would tell us that she just missed being born on Friday the 13th (it happened to be a Thursday that year). But when she died my aunts found her birth certificate. She wasn’t born on June 13th, that was the day she was baptized. She was really born two days earlier and forever celebrated her birthday on the wrong day.
My aunts were upset, but I would like to think Mémère would not have cared if she had ever noticed. She was happy to have a pie baked by my mom, and she would laugh her head off when we would sneak up and butter her nose so she could slide through another year.
Does your family have different birthday customs? What are they?
Marianne H. Donley makes her home in Tennessee with her husband and son. She is a member of Bethlehem Writers Group, Romance Writers of America, OCC/RWA, and Music City Romance Writers. When Marianne isn’t working on A Slice of Orange, she might be writing short stories, funny romances, or quirky murder mysteries, but this could be a rumor.
If you want to know more about the Dog Days of Summer here are some links:
You can organize anything but family–and love.More info →
Dan Rodin has once again transcended time...More info →
Her choice won the war, but may have cost her everything…More info →