Showing posts from December, 2023

Photo Friday: Backpacking the Sawtooths

  The third week of September this year I had a few days to spend as I pleased somewhere between Idaho and Colorado. I pleased to spend them backpacking the Alice Lake-Toxaway Lake loop in the Sawtooths, with a digression to add more scenery and an extra night (the basic loop is a pretty easy 2-night loop, but since I had 3 nights available...). Day One: Pettit Lake TH to Twin Lakes Unlike the previous backpack trip , this time I wanted an early start. Partly because it was a fairly long way in to my target for the night, but mostly because the trailhead parking fills up early and I didn't want to have to park a quarter mile down the road in the overflow. Since I'd spent the night in dispersed camping less than a mile from the TH, I was able to make my early start, though I ended up spreading a wet tent and fly around inside the car to dry while I was away! Most of my (clockwise) route is on here. There is a trail up from Toxaway to the Edna Lake trail that I took going up.  

Writer's Wednesday, Happy Solstice, and a break coming up

Happy Solstice! Somewhere in the next 24 hours the days start getting longer (for us in the north) or shorter (for you folks south of the equator). Winter Solstice is a favorite of mine, because I'm not a huge fan of the dark days of winter and though nothing changes in a hurry, from here we are on our way back to light. Last week I reflected on my NaNo experience, and I believe noted that I was kind of burned out and struggling to keep writing after 40 intense days. That's still kind of true--I've dropped my characters in the middle of the short story was I crafting, because I simply can't seem to make the story gel in my mind. I'm not giving up--but I am letting things percolate in hopes that the glimpses I've gotten of how it works out will turn into a clearer vision so I can write. Meanwhile, I've had a LOT of business to tend to, personal and writer-related. I've managed to send out my newsletter (see sign-up box in the side-bar if you want to get i

Middle Grade Monday: Hidden Truths

 Another of my random choices from the library, which turned out to be more nuanced than I thought.   Title: Hidden Truths Author: Elly Swartz Publisher: Books on Tape, 2023; 5 hours. Publisher's Blurb: How far would you go to keep a promise? Told from alternating points of view, Hidden Truths is a story of changing friendships, the lies we tell, the secrets we keep, and the healing power of forgiveness. Dani and Eric have been best friends since Dani moved next door in second grade. They bond over donuts, comic books, and camping on the Cape. Until one summer when everything changes. Did Eric cause the accident that leaves Dani unable to do the one thing in the world she most cares about? The question plagues him, and he will do anything to get answers about the explosion that injured her. But Dani is hurting too much to want Eric to pursue the truth--she just wants to shut him out and move on. Besides, Eric has a history of dropping things he starts. Eric knows that and

Photo Friday: White Cloud Mountains Backpack

The last couple of weeks I've been writing about the dayhikes of September. Today, we're strapping on the big packs and heading into the Cecil D. Andrus/White Clouds Wilderness, just across the road (as it were) from the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. I did this hike with my brother-in-law  Tom, of, where you can find far better photos than I take (and buy them)! (No, I don't get a commission, but yes, I am willing to shamelessly promote friends and relations). Day 1: A slow start We deliberately took our time on this day, double-checking our packing and enjoying a glorious breakfast at the camper (big thanks to Carol for doing most of the cooking!), then lunch, before we began the hour's drive to the TH. The turn-off was only a few minutes down the road, but the Fourth of July Creek road runs a long, gravel/dirt way into the mountains to give hikers a good start on the good stuff. Heading to Washington Lake, then on to Chamberlain Lakes Signs and maps offe

Writer's Update: NaNoWriMo review

NaNoWriMo--National Novel Writing Month--is officially over, even for my extended goal, and I'm ready to reflect on the experience and the process. Goals: I set my goal to hit the 80,000-word norm for my novels by December 10.  The result: Edited Out turned out to be more like 74K, and even shorter in the quick-and-dirty draft that left out some things. I went back and added some missing scenes, then was left with the choice of "failing" or cheating. Reader, I cheated. I finished out the last few days with whatever other writing I had on hand to do, to make it up to 80K. Result: I have a very rough and rocky draft of the novel, some personal stuff that needed writing, and partial draft of a short story that may be the germ of the next Seffi Wardwell mystery. Win-win? Maybe. I also have a bit of burnout. Writing daily, and often writing a LOT each day, left me with a story I'm not sure how to continue and a desire not to look at any of it for a while. On the other han

Non-fiction Review: Into Siberia, by Gregory J. Wallance

I owe the author and publisher of Into Siberia an apology, as I apparently got this book through NetGalley, not from the library as I assumed by the time I got around to reading it. So I'm overdue with the review. Title: Into Siberia: George Kennan's Epic Journey Through the Brutal, Frozen Heart of Russia Author: Gregory J. Wallance Publisher: St. Martin's Press, 2023. 304 pages. Source: Netgalley ARC Publisher's Blurb: In the late nineteenth century, close diplomatic relations existed between the United States and Russia. All that changed when George Kennan went to Siberia in 1885 to investigate the exile system and his eyes were opened to the brutality Russia was wielding to suppress dissent. Over ten months Kennan traveled eight thousand miles, mostly in horse-drawn carriages, sleighs or on horseback. He endured suffocating sandstorms in the summer and blizzards in the winter. His interviews with convicts and political exiles revealed how Russia ran on the

Friday Flash: WEP, #WritePhoto

I haven't done a lot of flash fiction lately, but with the WEP closing down I came back from my non-participation (I wasn't getting the inspiration from the songs and movies, as well as moving away from so much flash fiction on the blog). I also thought I'd look in on the WritePhoto prompt at KL Caley's New2Writing, and that put me in mind of my on-going story about the Scots vs. Aliens. I'd kind of finished that, but decided a little wrapping up wouldn't hurt. It's not much of a story, but here it is. The WEP prompt is "Over to You," which is offered as freedom to write what we want, so I did, but am linking back for the farewell. The WritePhoto Challenge is issued each Thursday with posts to be up and shared by the following Tuesday. The prompt is, of course a photo: Photo credit KL Caley My story isn't particulalry related to the photo, even if it did start my mind going back to that castle where the Campbells began the rebellion. Here'

IWSG and Cozy Mystery Review with Author Interview

This is a big post, so fasten your seat belts!  First: This is IWSG day, so I have a short post to report out on NaNoWriMo.       Why? The IWSG is here to share and encourage, to offer a place for authors to admit their insecurities and offer help and support to each other. How? The official IWSG posting day is the first Wednesday of every month. Hop around the list and see who has worries, triumphs, and news to share.  Every month we have an optional question to spark discussion.  Our motto:  Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG. The awesome co-hosts for the December 6 posting of the IWSG are C. Lee McKenzie, JQ Rose, Jennifer Lane, and Jacqui Murray! Every month, we announce an optional question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. December 6 question: Book reviews are for the readers. When you leave a book review do yo