Writing Prompt Contest

Don’t forget about our prompt contest. You can use any of the prompts from the month of September. Just post a 500 word short story to be entered for a chance to win a $10 Amazon GC.

Winner will be announced on Tuesday October 2, 2012.

Here are your prompt options:

1. Sarah’s hands trembled as she pushed through the crowded Wellington bus to embark on the first stage of her pilgrimage to discover…

2.  Powdered sugar. Gwen sifted the soft sand through her fingers as her stomach growled. Why did everything remind her of food and her strict diet? The emerald green water which stretched to the horizon took her back to…

3.  Joe pushed through the dense underbrush that flourished beside the hiking trail near their campsite, Mary clutching his hand tightly. He jerked to a stop when…

4.  Jodie smelled the caribou near her campsite before it came within camera range. She swiped the black flies from her face while she snapped photo after photo. Suddenly…

 Let your muse fly! Oh, have fun!!!!

Cool Climate Island Paradise

Ever since I watched the movie, Lucky Seven, with Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Patrick Dempsey, I was intrigued by the San Juan Islands of Washington State. In the movie, the couple takes a ferry across the Puget Sound to Orcas Island (though it was actually filmed on one of the smaller San Juan Islands). So when I visited Seattle, one of the things on my wish list was to visit Orcas Island. The San Juan Islands are only accessible by ferry (unless you have your own boat). We left from the port of Anacortes, nearly a 2-hour trip (each way) and it was cold, though it was mid-July.

That first visit, we found a rugged fishing camp called Lieber Haven. The cottages were quaint and old, but we loved it. As darkness fell, we dragged chairs out to the beach. I have truly never seen so many stars. We felt almost like we were in church and needed to whisper. A few hours later, as the guys were fishing, we witnessed the most incredible sunrise ever. Perhaps it’s just because we were so much further north than I’d ever been. It seemed we were surrounded by light, and it glowed pink, purple and gold.

Orcas off San Juan Island
Rugged Beauty

If you prefer a cool climate paradise, you’ve found it in the San Juan Islands. Just remember to take plenty of warm clothing, especially for the ferry ride.

A couple of years after that first visit, we returned to the Sound to visit San Juan Island. From San Juan’s coast, you can see Victoria, British Columbia. And in this place, between the USA and Canada, we had our first sighting in the wild of a beautiful creature, the Orca whale. We stood in awe, watching them jump.

There were many surprises for us on the San Juan Islands. The view from the top of Mt. Constitution on Orcas Island, the Orca whales, eagles, deer, sea otters and lavender fields, just to name a few.

As a setting for your novel, this locale has plenty of potential and the research will be a pleasure. And while you’re there, don’t miss the Columbia River Gorge and Deception Pass (now there’s a story in the making).

Alternate Transportation


Washington State Tourism

Camping in Alaska

Camping in Alaska? Yes, you read that right. It sounds like an oxymoron to put a summery outdoor activity with the land of ice and snow, but my brother, Jesse, and his family, along with scores of others  often enjoy a leisurely day at the campground.
Jesse’s campsite
A favorite campground Jesse frequents is the Johnson Lake State Recreation Area on the Kenai Peninsula. It is a popular summer recreational destination, especially with the locals, for camping, wildlife viewing, scenic views, and fishing at the Kasilof River and at Johnson Lake. Moose, black and brown bear, lynx, squirrels, hares and other creatures are plentiful in all of these areas. Jesse mentioned the site filled up quickly when the red salmon are running.
A typical day camping for him and his family consists of canoeing, fishing, cooking over the campfire, and even digging clams when in season.  He said, unlike the Deep South, you can enjoy a summertime campfire without getting too hot.
He also enjoys camping at Hidden Lake, also on the Kenai Peninsula. It rates as one of the best campgrounds in the state and activities include popular fishing streams, bear viewing and lake trout fishing. Jesse’s friend Matt often camps at Twin Lakes in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, a park reachable only by plane.
Lake Clark has been called “the essence of Alaska”, for it concentrates in a relatively small area of the Alaska Peninsula, Southwest of Anchorage, a variety of features not found together in any of the other Alaska Parks: the junction of three mountain ranges, two active volcanoes, a coastline with rainforests on the East, a plateau with tundra on the West, and turquoise lakes. Vast numbers of moose, brown and black bears, wolves, wolverines, red foxes, Dall sheep, and caribou make their home here. Slender and 50 miles long, Lake Clark itself reflects tall ragged spires of rock, and salmon and trout run in great numbers.
So if you love to camp and want the ultimate camping experience, think Alaska. Unless you love freezing weather, think summer.
Today’s writing prompt:  Jodie smelled the caribou near her campsite before it came within camera range. She swiped the black flies from her face while she snapped photo after photo. Suddenly…

Camping in the South

A totally different experience from our “beach” vacation spots would be camping in the South. Think warm to hot weather much of the year, vast forests, rivers, and creeks, complete with swimming, hiking, campfires, and bicycling. Camping has proven to be one of my personal favorite vacations.
photo from Wikipedia Commons
I love the quiet times in a wooded area, especially state parks where time moves slower than at home. We like to sleep in, then cook a late breakfast before going to ride bikes, paddleboat, or hike the trails and perhaps snap a photo of a white-tailed deer. The afternoon might be spent napping in a chaise lounge or exploring local attractions. Evening means grilling supper, a campfire, and s’mores. What could be better than that?
Observation point/David Crockett
Two campgrounds are favorites of ours: one in Tennessee and one in Alabama. David Crockett State Park is a state park in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, located on Shoal Creek and commemorates the historical activities of famous frontiersman David Crockett in the local area. The park was established in 1959 on 1,100 acres of land that includes the site where Crockett had his mills and distillery. A 40-acre lake offers opportunities for fishing and boating. Visitor facilities include two campgrounds and a restaurant. While camping in the heavily wooded area, it’s not uncommon to be visited by wild turkeys, deer, or raccoons.
View from paddleboat
The park’s two campgrounds contain a total of 107 sites, each equipped with a table and grill plus electrical and water hookups. Bathhouses provide hot showers, commodes and lavatories.  Campsites are provided on a first-come, first-served basis. While there, we enjoy the paddleboats on Lindsey Lake, wonderful hiking trails that lead down to Shoal Creek and Crockett Falls, and bike riding.
Joe Wheeler State Park is a 2,550 acre park in Northwest Alabama, located along Wheeler Lake. Beside the 110 wooded, yet modern campsites, complete with water, electric and sewer, there are primitive sites for the individuals who want to “rough” it. The park includes a resort lodge, full service convention facilities, restaurant, a marina with 140 boat slips, a 2.5-mile looped trail for hiking and biking, and an 18-hole championship golf course.
No matter where you live in the United States, think camping. My brother and his family also enjoy camping and they live in Anchorage, Alaska. More about this in next week’s post.
What kind of trouble—er—adventure could the characters in your next novel find while camping at their local state park?  
This week’s writing prompt:  Joe pushed through the dense underbrush that flourished beside the hiking trail near their campsite, Mary clutching his hand tightly. He jerked to a stop when…

The Fascination Continues – Beach Vacations

When I was a preteen I dreamt of Tahiti. I’ve yet to go there. I’ve visited several coastal beaches on the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Hubby and I really love the Gulf, most especially Pensacola Beach. Located on Santa Rosa Island, from most locations you can view the Santa Rosa Sound on one side and the Gulf on the other. At my very first sighting, its bright, white sand and emerald waters beckoned. I was hooked. One of the most noteworthy facts about Pensacola Beach–it is mostly residential, rather than commercial. You’ll find only a few high rises and a limited number of businesses. I like that.

The Pensacola area is rich in history, a great place to research that historical novel. Especially if your plans include the region’s Spanish origins. A contingency of Spanish soldiers and settlers sailed into Pensacola Bay in August, 1559, led by Tristan de Luna y Arellano and Hernan Cortes (conqueror of Mexico). This first expedition experienced one disaster after another, including a violent hurricane. A Spanish colony was finally established in 1698. As a writer, I can well imagine an entire cast of colorful characters inhabiting these early coastal villages.
If your genre is more current, you don’t have to go far to find plenty of ideas. Visit the area hangouts, boat docks and oyster bars (like PegLeg Pete’s!) and be sure to bring your notepad or ipad. The Pensacola area also boasts a naval base and is home to the famed Blue Angels. With its rich history, Pensacola Beach’s “flavor” reminds me a little bit of Key West. 
Besides the beautiful beaches in and around the Gulf of Mexico, I have visited many of the Pacific beaches of Southern California. Here, the water is darker and some of the beaches are rugged and breathtakingly beautiful. A couple of years ago, I made my first trip to Washington State and we visited their strip of the Pacific. All I can say is, though lovely, it was cold. Very, very cold in September. The wind blows so hard, my mom would need weighted clothing. She would surely blow away. Great sailing weather. We also visited the beautiful, rugged beaches of several islands in the Puget Sound. My next post will include pictures of those stunningly beautiful dream getaways.  
But for now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to kick back and enjoy the sound of the surf. I intend to stretch out on my cabana chair and enjoy a good book. Happy dreams!