Category Archives: Thursday Night Writers Group Blog

It’s been a while….

Cruising Alaska

Cruising Alaska

You may have thought that I never made it home from Alaska but I’m back!! Since late June, that is. When summer in NH was just making its appearance, we returned from the trip of a lifetime. Or not. It seems as though we say that about every trip that we take–Hawaii, Alaska, and, next summer, a 17-day river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest!!

Glaciers, whales, panning for gold (our $17 worth is locked away in our safe), a train trip to the Yukon, Denali Mountain (we were sad to be among the 70% who don’t see it), the Red Onion Saloon (unable to elaborate as this is a G-rated

Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier

blog), wildlife (a dead porcupine strapped to the top of a car), forest fires (smoke was overwhelming in Fairbanks), an earthquake–we experienced it all on our cruise/land tour of Alaska! Despite all of this–or maybe because of it–we loved our time in Alaska. We have 1,000+ pictures to prove it.

We met interesting people from around the world, mainly by asking if we could take the two empty chairs at their lunch table. Our dinner mates were two brothers and their spouses from Michigan. Last week we returned from an Adrenal Cancer Symposium in Ann Arbor, Michigan, spent a night with one of the couples, and went out to dinner with all four of them. It was as though we had just left Fairbanks a few days ago.

The Adrenal Cancer Symposium was amazing. Over 200 doctors, researchers, and patients came together to learn about the latest developments in diagnosing and treating this rare, orphan disease. We became acquainted with many of the patients and advocates attending, all of us with unique stories about the disease we share. Dr. Gary Hammer, the amazing head of the University of Michigan’s Hammer Laboratory, managed to be everywhere during the symposium. I hope he is on vacation this week, somewhere with sunshine, waves, and an “all inclusive” band around his wrist!

We did enjoy the hot summer here with trips to Cape Cod, Ogunquit, and Rye Beach. Only managed to get our kayaks on Long Pond once. Didn’t make it to Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park, Nova Scotia/Prince Edward Island, or Martha’s Vineyard, but you have to stay home once in a while. Don’t you? Steve has given up on his motorcycle (anyone interested in buying a great Harley Davidson??) and is now obsessed with his 2004 soft-top Jeep Wrangler. And so am I.

Sad to report that I took the screens off the windows today. We’ve had a few killing frosts (19 degrees one morning) and the foliage has either turned a dull brown or has been blown to the ground. What I consider to be the best season in NH–summer–is over. My husband claims the best is fall. Neither one of us is a fan of winter (anymore? were we ever?) so we have decided to head out early this year and spend our first Christmas in Williamsburg (Colonial Williamsburg should be beautiful) then it’s off to Arizona for sunshine, blue skies, and dry heat.

If you’ve been following my writing group’s blog, Thursday Night Writes, you’ll know that I’ve kept up my writing but still struggle to complete any of my projects. NaNoWriMo starts up again November 1 (I was unsuccessful in reaching my goal in Camp NaNoWriMo in July) and I plan to participate. The gray days of November and a TV diet just might help me achieve my 50,000 words.

Guess you’re caught up….funny how you can condense an entire summer into fewer than 600 words!

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Alaska here we come!!

Enjoying the LPGA at Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg

Enjoying the LPGA tournament at Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg

We arrived home safe and sound on May 20 after spending a few short, busy and FUN weeks with Jennifer and family in Williamsburg (and my sister from Virginia Beach and niece from DC). The weather was great–except for when it had to rain. We joke that if they need rain down there, just invite us to visit–the rain won’t be far behind! My Fitbit got a good workout with walking the three dogs and keeping up with Laurel and Alex.

I had thought I would work on my story, “The Intruder,” which is sort of set in Jennifer’s house and the surrounding area. I never got further than thinking about either the story or having Steve tie me up to the newel post in the garage to test out the lawn edger string. (See my Thursday Night Writes blog post Just Write It“!)

Love being back home. Oh, if you don’t count the weather. Hot one day, rainy and cold for the next three. Definitely have missed all of our friends and family. Sheffield and Elise have grown up so much since December!!

We are now embarking onto another countdown–preparing for our cruise and land tour in Alaska! (Is there a person who has done this who wouldn’t do it again? If so, I haven’t run into them.) We leave the end of next week and I am nowhere near ready. It’s all about the clothes–how do you pack for a region where the temperatures have been fluctuating between the 90’s (record highs) and the 30’s and snow?? (I’ve decided that fleece gloves and headband are a necessity and they won’t take up too much precious space in my suitcases.) “Layers” is the advice I get from those who have done this before.

I have submitted my story “Jamie” to my writing group several times since our return from Arizona. I chuckled when I read the comments after our session last night. On some areas there is a consensus on what works and what doesn’t–yet on others, one member might like something and another might not. It’s as though I had six editors reviewing my work. Oh, it’s not just me. Everyone in our writing group runs into the same thing. One of my biggest downfalls is that I know inside my head what is happening inside my characters’ heads but I am not adept at getting that onto paper. Yet.

Since our return we have been busy with doctors’ and dentist (no cavities!) appointments. I met with my endocrinologist yesterday at DHMC. Nothing new except my left adrenal gland is finally starting to shut down. After slightly over two years on mitotane! She was pleased with that–and so am I. I’d hate to think that all of the nausea and fatigue was for naught. As it was Thursday, we had turkey in the cafeteria. The allure is finally wearing off and I didn’t even finish my meal. Shocking.

My oncologist visit is the day after our return from Alaska–who thought that was a good idea? I see my primary care physician in July, when we will discuss scheduling the dreaded colonoscopy. (I’m on the five-year plan.) Haven’t I been through enough?

Can’t wait to tell you all about Alaska…but that will mean the trip of a lifetime is over…except we already are planning on a river cruise to Europe next year!!

Fun and games in sunny Arizona

We had a blast with our friends from NH. The weather was spectacular and we justified revisiting some tourist attractions (we can’t get enough of Arizona!): Old Scottsdale, Tortilla Flat, the Apache Trail, San Tan Flat, and Usery Mountain Regional Park, to name a few.

Since their visit our main adventures have been to the Painted Rock Petroglyph Site, an amazing

Painted Rock Petroglyph Site

Painted Rock Petroglyph Site

collection of ancient rock etchings, and to Lake Bartlett. We’ve also been busy finalizing our plans for our cruise/land tour to Alaska in June!!

Friday night we were entertained by Jerry Seinfeld at Comerica Theatre in downtown Phoenix. I’d been sick in bed for three days so it was a struggle to get there but well worth it. Laughter is healing after all.

It’s not all fun and games here in sunny (how many times do I need to say that??) AZ. I have attempted to find time to work on my writing though I won’t go so far as to say that I have done so successfully.

Christina Baker Kline’s two novels, “Orphan Train” and “The Way Life Should Be,” while both good reads, didn’t give me any ideas on tying the setting together for my three in progress novels. Anne Tyler’s “A Spool of Blue Thread,” has moved me in a different direction however. Instead of three separate novels it might make more sense to combine them into one novel. Tyler’s novel is multigenerational centered not only around the same community but also the same house. Houses play an important role in my novels as well. Lots to ponder…

Meanwhile I’ve been whittling away at my short story, “Jamie.” Going line by line. Arduous work. I’m envious of the way some members of my writing group unflinchingly absorb the critiquing of the group and manage to submit revision after revision. I can barely tolerate my own critiquing—it’s enough to justify the procrastination I am so adept at. After a little (lot??) more work, the challenge is to figure out how to submit the story to the group and receive real-time feedback while I’m in AZ.

Although it’s no replacement for my weekly writing group back in NH, I’m participating in a three week online writing group “Creative Monsters Club.” Our coach Marcy MacKay, of Mudpie Writing, is supportive and intuitive. Last week the two other participants on Skype were in Ireland and Saudi Arabia. I am curious to see where the two other participants this week will be from.

My NH writing group has created a blog for the group: Thursday Night Writes. (I’ve reposted the initial post by Eleanor Ingbretson in my previous post. It’s great!) I feel guilty that I am not there to help more. We have such diverse writing styles that I am anxious to see how it all comes together. I imagine that will be its charm. I’m not certain everyone realizes how much it takes away from your other writing time (at least that is my experience). Yet we need to do this to move forward as professional writers.

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