On Vacating

Edith here, who got back last night from a real vacation. A real vacation! I don’t take one very often, so this getaway was long overdue.  Leave a comment about road trips or other favorite vacays and you might win my last ARC of Turning the Tide.

Hugh and I left on the Ides of March and drove south to Silver Spring, Maryland. We visited with my older son Allan and his fiancee, Alison, and got to tour the September wedding venue (squee!).

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We also taste tested a caterer, and play a wicked fun game with the couple and Alison’s parents, Rick and Sue.

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Allan, Hugh, and I  spent one day in DC. We caught the Caldor mobile exhibit at the National Gallery of Art, and the giant blue rooster, of course.

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We paid a pop-in visit to the Obama portraits in the Portrait Gallery, which was a huge treat, as was seeing a portrait of the female Supreme Court justices, and paying homage to Louisa May Alcott.

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We were lucky to spend our last night in the DC area with fellow Wicked Sherry and her darling husband Bob and of course the four-legged Lilly, but failed to snap even a single picture.

From there we drove to Asheville, North Carolina, where you can visit a microbrewery about every other block. It was fun to catch up with Hugh’s sister Anne and brother-in-law Jim. We also feasted on the sight of flowers in bloom, something that isn’t happening yet in New England.

We ate out every night, but one of the best classically southern meals was lunch the first day. Fried catfish and Brussels sprouts, anyone, or fried chicken on a biscuit with sausage gravy and cheesy grits? Yum. (And now I’m home? A serious diet is on the menu.)

We also played a lot of cards and a dice game named Farkle, because it was cold and snowy one of the days.

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We visited all kinds of art galleries, indoor and out, and ate lunch at a barbeque place where I had the best home-smoked BLT I have ever tasted.

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After one dinner out we hit the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. I found out the next day the French Broad is a river running through Asheville, not the founder of the lounge!

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One highlight was a visit to the Thomas Wolfe house. I soaked up the nineteenth century kitchen and bedroom decor for my historical research, but also soaked up so much information on a fellow author I  knew nothing about.

Another special evening was cocktails at the historic Grove Park Hotel overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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I grew up with mountains always on my southern California horizons and I felt so at home being surrounded by peaks in Asheville.

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Much of the Blue Ridge Parkway wasn’t open because of ice remaining in the tunnels. Still, the views were a delight.

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I was able to do a bit of writing on a short story every morning but otherwise just enjoyed myself. I will say I’m looking forward to getting back to work on my books, which is a sign that I have the career I should have.

At our last night at Luella’s barbeque (yes, food to die for), I was alerted to the fact that the man sitting behind me had a gun strapped to his waist. Clever detective that I am, I managed to snap a picture over my shoulder. That’s right, kids, North Carolina is an open-carry state. And yes, story ideas abounded.

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We zipped back to DC for one night, and the next day stopped by New Jersey to bring Hugh’s aunt Joyce lunch from her favorite Chinese restaurant.  She’s age almost 93 and still living alone in a senior apartment.

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Joyce is the last of her Lockhart generation and a real dear – who also happens to be a fan of my books. I made sure she had a copy of each new one.

I made good use of my passenger time on the two-day trip home, and managed to finish the first draft of the story I’d been working on – the old-fashioned way.

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Turning the TideThe vacation was time away from book work, but I acquired a number of ideas for new stories and let my creative brain mostly rest, too. And it’s wonderful to be home. Our cats left us mountains of fur and creative scatterings of coasters on the floor – which of course means they were on the tables.

Now I’m ramping up for the April 8 release of Turning the Tide, and I find myself with one last ARC. Who can I send it to?

Readers: We talked here about our favorite vacations a couple of weeks ago. What’s been your favorite road trip? Your most unusual vacation? Let me know in the comments and I’ll send an ARC along!

Wicked Wednesday: Vacation for Writers

Vacation (1)On Wednesdays the Wickeds weigh in on a specific topic. Wickeds, do your vacation plans differ now that you are a writer? Do secluded houses without internet hold more appeal? Does writing factor into your vacation plans? What is a writing vacation v. a vacation vacation? Is there such a thing as vacation when you are a writer?

Liz: I took my first actual vacation vacation in about five years this past February, thanks to Barb. When I visited Key West, I think the most writing I did was 100 words one morning before I decided it was much too nice a day for that. The time was much needed. That said, I don’t think we’re ever really, completely ON vacation. Even if we’re not putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) the stories are still working away in our brains. I think a little recharging helps fresh ideas rise to the surface. Of course, I’m a huge fan of our annual Wicked writing retreats!

Barb: Someone once said that being a writer is like agreeing to have homework for the rest of your life. Now that we’re no longer tethered to child care or day jobs, my husband and I often go away and just move our entire operation to another location–i.e. we’re still working, but in a different locale. That is one of the most fantastic things about the writing life. However, every once in a while we go on a “vacation, vacation,” not bringing any work. And at least once a year, I try to unplug completely, to neither write nor do any of the “business of writing,” and only use the electronics for finding my way somewhere or making dinner reservations.

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Edith with beau and inlaws. Which of these is not like the other?

Edith: Of course I love quiet writing vacations, either solo or with like-minded authors. I hadn’t taken a real vacation in a few years, so this March Hugh and I did a southern-swing driving vacation. We visited my older son in the DC area on our way to Hugh’s sister and her husband in North Carolina, and on the way back, too. We had a great time and I barely worked, only putting up a couple of blog posts. But that one week turned out to be the week the Boston Globe wanted to photoshoot the Wickeds, and I missed it. That week! And the article didn’t come out for another five weeks. I’m not sure if I dare take another real vacation. Maybe next time Oprah will come calling…

IMG_2226_2Sherry: I think vacations are different when you are a writer. You may not write but you are always absorbing things that may be incorporated into a story — a bit of conversation, the way something smells, the perfect place to discover a body. My husband and I left our home early one morning for a trip. It was still dark out and about five miles from our house we passed a truck pulled over on the side of the road by some woods. A man was standing by the back reaching into the truck bed. And of course I thought he was up to something sinister.

Jessie: I find getting out of my normal routine makes the creative juices flow better than usual so vacations inevitably turn into working vacations. Even when I am not sitting at a desk with my laptop in front of me I find myself reaching for a notebook and recording things I find intriguing. I don’t think I’d want it any other way!

Julie: Last summer I took a real vacation, and took a river cruise down the Danube. Even then, I spent time researching clocks, going to museums to look at clocks, and waiting until the hour to see what the clock tower did. As my friend Pat said, it is all novel material. Since I also have a day job, vacations are usually spent writing, or editing. Or both. But writing is what I love, and it can be done anywhere, so I am good with those choices.

Dear readers who are writers, how about you? Has vacation changed since the muse moved in? And readers who aren’t writers – do you get away, really away on vacations?