Thursday, August 11, 2011

What I Did on My Summer Holidays

I had a lovely holiday in July. But even though I was in vacation mode, I still thought about and worked on my writing. Let me tell you about my holiday.

We started our holiday by driving to Saskatchewan for a wedding. Actually, we started our holiday by having to put four new tires on our car. Nothing like spending a small fortune before the holiday even starts! But I digress. The wedding was beautiful. The ceremony took place on a small hill overlooking the Qu’Appelle Valley on the farm of the groom’s family. The weather was perfect, warm but not too hot and no rain. Even the mosquitoes stayed away. Best of all, many of my relatives that I don’t get to see too often were there. It was a chance to catch up with family under joyful circumstances.

After the wedding we headed south into North Dakota to do some golfing. My husband is an avid golfer, and though I’m not as much of a keener as he is, I enjoy a beautiful day out on the course. I wish I could tell you that I played great, but it’s not nice to lie. But we did play some beautiful courses, including Bully Pulpit Golf Course in the North Dakota Badlands. It’s an absolutely breathtaking course and a definite challenge for a golfer like me! We toured Theodore Roosevelt National Park and saw wild horses, one buffalo and dozens of prairie dogs. They were adorable!

Part of the reason for our trip into North Dakota, aside from golfing, was to give me a chance to do a little reconnaissance for future books, and for a current WIP. Back in 2009 when I attended the Surrey International Writer’s  Conference and had a blue pencil workshop with author Susan Wiggs, she suggested that I move the setting of my novel, “Welcome to Paradise” from rural Saskatchewan to rural USA to appeal more to American readers. Since I had been thinking along those lines myself, I decided to take her advice and move the story to North Dakota. After this trip, I think I know where my hero and heroine will now live. All I have to do now is to revise the whole story. Yikes!

After the North Dakota Badlands, we moved south to Rapid City, South Dakota and the Black Hills. Of course we made the obligatory visit to Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse monument, which both are truly impressive. We had a fun day in Deadwood. We did the tourist thing and took a bus tour with an enthusiastic bus driver who pointed out highlights of the town and took us up to Boot Hill to visit the graves of Wild Bill Hitchcock and Calamity Jane.  After the tour we ate lunch at a restaurant owned by Kevin Costner. Several of the costumes Kevin wore in his movies were on display which made for fun browsing while we waited for our food.
Mount Rushmore

Crazy Horse Monument

Crazy Horse model

Wild Bill's grave

Calamity Jane grave

But even Kevin Costner didn’t deter me from my writing goals. One very early morning while my husband golfed solo in Rapid City, I worked on revisions to another WIP, called “Home Fires”. I managed to figure out some plot problems that had previously vexed me, so I felt good about that. Also under the heading of writing related pursuits, was judging a contest. I signed up to judge in the preliminary round of the EPIC EBook Competition and received the books to be judged while in Rapid City. With only a week to read six books, I scrambled to read my entries. It was only after finishing the fourth book that I reread the instructions to the judges and realized that since I was a preliminary round judge, I only had to read the first three chapters of each book! And the moral of the story, boys and girls, always carefully read the instructions!

So now holidays are over and I’m back home and back at the day job. But it’s been a great summer with hot temperatures, sunny, rainless skies and few mosquitoes, three things that rarely happen together in this neck of the woods. So, dear readers, how did you spend your summer holidays? Did you take a break from writing for the summer, or did you manage to squeeze some plotting into your schedule?  Did you, or will you get a chance to get away for a vacation?


  1. Hi Jana, we made the Black Hills Trip a couple of summers ago and had a wonderful time! We got to the Crazy Horse Monument minutes before a scheduled blast, which doesn't sound very exciting to see but it was!

    I admire your determination to write while on holidays. I always have good intentions but never quite manage it. I do a lot of thinking while I'm away though and never fail to work through some writing problem. So that's a good thing.

    I'm glad you had a great summer. It's going by way to fast.

  2. I don't always manage to write while on holidays, but this year I had to. I had to finish my war bride story by the deadline. There was no way I was going to miss it!

    I know what you mean about working out problems with books while you're away. I think giving ourselves a little time off allows the subconsious to mull over issues of plot and character. Sometimes the answers have been right in front of us all along, but we just needed time to find them.

    The summer is going way too fast! Best of luck with your writing.