Facets of a Muse

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I’m baaack! #amwriting #amediting

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Blueberry Trail – Shire in the Woods

Last weekend I ventured farther north to my personal writing retreat. If you look at a map of MN, there’s a big lake sorta in the middle to the northish of the middle of the state–Lake Mille Lacs. My retreat was a bit east of that, a roughly three-hour drive for me. Our trees were almost fully dressed, but up by Lake Mille Lacs they were just starting to leaf out.

The place I stayed, Shire in the Woods, started out as a hermitage, but now offers cabin rentals for those who like the peace and quiet (except when people drive their motorcycles around and kids use their outside voices). It’s at the edge of “Lake Country”–farther north and west is the bulk of the vacation/resort area–so I suspect a lot of people stay there as a “home base” for fishing adventures. It’s also at the edge of a state park–more comfortable than camping, but not so ostentatious as “glamping”.

I didn’t take any pics of the cabin I stayed in because they have quite a few on their website. I stayed in the Loft, a tiny cabin with an upstairs (cool spiral staircase!). One amenity is free internet, but I found the internet connection flakey and barely usable. Which is fine, except that meant no research (heh, no rabbit holes) and barely sufficient to check email.

Looking out the front window of the Loft

I chose this cabin because of the two levels (separates sleeping area from working area) and the glider rockers. I like to sit in a recliner with the footrest out when I write, so these were appealing. There’s a tiny kitchenette that includes a mini-fridge and the bare basics of salt, pepper, coffee, sugar, creamer. I brought my own coffee (nice excuse to get some good coffee πŸ™‚ ).

It was cool and gloomy–I think I saw maybe a total of a half-hour of sunshine the entire three days. The cabins are small enough (at least the Loft was) to not be too cold. There was an electric heater (one of the ones that look like a skinny radiator), which kept the place warm enough that I didn’t have to use any wood.

My intent had been to wander the trails a bit, but things were still thawing and drying out, so the one trail I did venture on had some low, very wet (standing water) spots. And wood ticks! Ugh! I brought some bug repellent with DEET on purpose because I know that a) it’s tick season, and b) they have deer ticks in the area. So as I’m trying to walk a trail and skirt around the wet spots, I’m traipsing through last year’s dead grasses and naked branches, prime wood tick hangouts.

I still managed to get wet feet (granted, they do tell you to bring waterproof footwear because of those low spots), and I have never seen so many wood ticks trying to hitch a ride at one time. I got back to the cabin, and brushed nearly a dozen ticks off my pants–that I had sprayed with DEET (40% DEET)! I showered right away, so I could warm up and make sure no ticks found a meal.

Needless to say, I didn’t venture on the trails after that. Note to self: probably a good idea to bring waterproof boots next time. And more bug spray. Lots more bug spray.

I finished my revisions for Book 2; now to let it cool off a bit before one more run though it. Also some progress on my police procedural that I have to reorganize. Not so much writing with that one yet, but shuffling scenes around. I did determine I need to write out a timeline to get the sequence of events set in my head; the index cards help, but I learned I need to walk through the scenes in a timeline format to really get a handle on where they are in the story.

Overall, a success! I’m going to go back for another retreat in October, after the tourist season but before the winter weather season (usually). Maybe it’ll be after tick season by then, and it’s usually pretty dry as well.

Next time I’m going to try the Woodlands cabin. Single level, but seems to be laid out in a way that allows some separation between the sleeping area and the working area. And it’s tucked away from the main activity. That is one thing I noticed–though the cabins have some trees between them, they’re still pretty close to each other in the grand scheme. The Woodlands is set apart; I found it during my trail adventure.

This weekend is garden planting weekend for me, so I’ll be not writing for most of it–boo–except it’s supposed to rain, so we’ll see how far I get.

For all those in the US, have a great holiday weekend!

Author: Julie Holmes, author

A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for over a decade, I have been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. My debut novel, "Murder in Plane Sight", has been released by Camel Press (an imprint of Coffeetown Press/Epicenter Press). In real life, I am a technical writer and empty-nester with a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, five chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

6 thoughts on “I’m baaack! #amwriting #amediting

  1. It sounds like, overall, you had a really successful retreat, Julie, and that’s fantastic! You know, it’s funny; I like a nice, quick, dependable WiFi connection. That said, though, I can see the advantage of the sort of focus you get when you can’t easily get online. And there’s nothing like nature to ‘clean out’ your brain and rest it so that you can be refreshed to write. I’m glad you had a good trip, and, of course, a safe one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Margot! I consider it a success. One of my intentions with the exercise was to figure out if doing a retreat like this would really be beneficial for my writing (as opposed to simply enjoying the solitude and goofing off (that’s where the flakey internet helped πŸ™‚ )

      Have a great writing week!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like how Zoey has given herself a makeshift pillow there, sleeping like a tiny human. Snuggle, snarf, meow!
    Lessons learned about the cabin stay, but still sounds like a decent experience. Aside from the ticks. So, so gross about the ticks! Good thing you know how to handle those. My one and only tick experience was on a visit to MN. I didn’t know what the heck the nasty thing was until Paul explained. Y’all are hardy folk!

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! You didn’t have ticks in OH growing up? City girl? We even pull tick (engorged ticks usually) off the dogs every summer, despite the tick collars. I even caught a tick last week when I was brushing Zoey. Ahh, the wonders of Nature–I wonder what the whole point of ticks are. At least with mosquitoes you can reason that their purpose is to feed the dragonflies πŸ™‚

      Have a wonderful writing week, Betsy!

      Like

  3. I tromped through the woods all the time in Ohio. Being called a city girl would be an insult. And yet, somehow, no ticks where I lived. I think MN is just especially infested. Maybe it’s all those lakes. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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