As Summer Begins

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C&O Canal Trail at Point of Rocks, Maryland

June is here. As a child, it was the beginning of carefree summer—no school or homework until late August. An endless road of unmapped days.

And I was usually bored before the Fourth of July. I would have been happy with a longer school year. I enjoyed learning. In addition to sports, my summers included tons of reading, and not just fiction. I read just as much non-fiction on subjects that interested me.

In graduate school, summer usually meant fieldwork for those of us in archaeology, whether we worked here in the US or went abroad. We were still young, and the heat and hard work didn’t bother us much. Ending the days with cold beverages of a fermented variety went a long way to refreshing us for the next day’s work—which was often preceded by a night of socializing. We learned a lot those summers—and not only about archaeology.

Now, summer isn’t all that different from any other season. School was long ago replaced by a career, and that career doesn’t take a break simply because the calendar turns to June. You might be thinking I now miss those “carefree” summers of my youth. And you would be partially correct. I wouldn’t want that three-month hiatus. But I wouldn’t mind having some of that free time back, scattered throughout the year. Those few weeks of vacation most of us get for the year aren’t quite enough to ever fully recharge, are they?

I’m entering one of the busier stretches of the summer, so I probably won’t post again until June 24th. And you may not see much of me on your blogs before then. I’m still working on the new WIP, even though you might not know it from the word count. But even when I’m too tired or busy to write, I’m thinking about the story line and characters.

And I like them. A lot. The relationship may not be the giddy, headstrong one I shared with my earlier characters when writing was new, but there’s a maturity to it that I hope reflects my growth as a writer. Time will tell—and my betas when I’m finally ready for them.

I’ll leave you with another setting image for the new WIP. Gathering these helps crystallize my thoughts and get them onto the page. As the story develops further, I’ll set up a page for these images.

How does June look for you? Carefree? Hectic? What do you mean it’s June already?!

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This photo captures the season of the new WIP more than others.

69 thoughts on “As Summer Begins

  1. My biped loved the long summer holidays. The public library was only a few minutes walk away and she was allowed to go on her own, meaning she could change her books as often as she wished.
    I’m glad to hear the WIP is taking shape in your head.

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    • I was good friends with our local library when I was growing up, too. I couldn’t walk there, but my mother has always been an avid reader, so we went together frequently. Getting lost in those books was a good way to escape the boredom.

      Now, if I can just find the ability to write in stolen moments!

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  2. You and I posted similar thoughts this week, JM. June is my favorite month of the year, and as an employee of the public schools, that rhythm of life we remember from childhood hasn’t changed much for me. I’m looking forward to a 9-week break from the day job, but you’re right — before July is out the novelty has worn off and monotony has set in. Still, summer always begins with such a hopeful air. I’ve got a long to-do list, probably overly ambitious, but I’m most looking forward to trying Camp NaNoWriMo in July.

    I love the idea of compiling setting photos. I think I’ll do that, too.

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    • I suspect a number of bloggers will have similar posts this month. 😉 It’s a good time to step back and concentrate on family and fun if we can. We won’t have much time off, and that’s one reason I’ve been cutting down on my posts. I would like to get a bit more reading in if I can. We’ll just have to see how things go. I’m not going to try to fight a tide, though, to do it!

      Luckily, my stories (so far) are all set close to me geographically. It’s easy for me to snap photos when I’m out and about. I know I could grab some from the web from other places, but I’d be leery of posting them if I wasn’t sure about copyright. I even decided not to use WordPress’s arrangement with Getty because they do say the photos aren’t for commercial use. And even though I don’t have a WIP to sell now, that day may come. So I’m playing it safe and only using my own or Microsoft clip art.

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  3. I’d love a month of carefree days. It would be…bliss. We forget what that’s like as adults because even our vacations and holidays seem packed with things to do.

    Good luck on the WIP. Your photo looks like a corner of our yard.

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    • Even though my husband and I don’t have children, our vacation trips are still packed with trying to see and do too much. 😉 Not that we’re getting much time off this summer…. Sigh.

      I can see some resemblances to Wisconsin in this photo, too. 😉 Although, this is “somewhere” in the Mid-Atlantic. Not every scene will be in such a calm setting, but I’m just getting started. Sometimes, photos like this are a good way to get me in the writing groove. Maybe posting them will help, too.

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  4. I loved summer vacations although they didn’t consist of much outside my neighborhood when I was a kid. The summer vacations I loved most were the ones I experienced when I was older and had my kids. Now THOSE were the days. We took off the day after school ended for our summer house and didn’t return until the day before school started up again. Sheer wonderment, those 3 months.
    If I had to determine a season that gave me the most trouble it was that first September after college graduation when it finally dawned on me a life long pattern had changed! Until that time it was school, summer, school, summer ad infinitum. Not going back to school that first working September bothered me terribly! It seemed like everything familiar had just melted away and i was facing (gulp!) adulthood!
    Tough time that was!

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    • A summer house has never been part of my experience—but it makes a great backdrop for a lot of mysteries that make for great summer reading. 😉 The kids must have loved those vacations—especially if a large body of water was involved!

      Leaving that school/summer/school/summer route is a rite of passage, really. I don’t think many of us are really prepared for it. Getting up at the same time five days a week, working 8-hour days, and only a few weeks of vacation is a drastic change for most of us. Unless someone goes into teaching, those summer breaks are a thing of the past. Adulthood beckons—even if we do our best to put it off a few years longer! 😀

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  5. I can remember summers where the only thing I had to worry about was locking my bike up at the library where I’d spend hours in air-conditioned splendor reading. But that was long ago. Once I turned twelve, I started babysitting full-time in the summer and then worked every summer thereafter in one way or another. Even now, though I’m spending my time writing, it’s still not a summer “off.” As you know, writing can feel every bit like work as a nine-to-five job. 🙂

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    • You started working summers a bit earlier than I did, and I was only part-time. Yes, my much older siblings will tell you I was spoiled. 😉 (Was not!)

      And even though you’re writing this summer, I know you’re also very busy with family. While that may not be “work,” it’s still time dedicated to others. 😉 I’m hoping to sneak in some writing this week—if I can gather the energy and focus for it! I’m working with a patient character, but patience has been known to wear thin when someone feels ignored….

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      • I’ve been out of town so it’s been a week since I’ve opened my WIP. After working on it so diligently so many days in a row, I suspect my characters think I’ve abandoned them. And now that I’ve lost my momentum, I have little motivation to reopen Scrivener. Sigh.

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    • My June is too. Alas, I don’t see things letting up before the end of September for me. But I hope you’ll have the chance to enjoy July and August and spend time with your writing as well as with family and friends. And may the summer see fewer wildfires than recent years!

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  6. Happy Summer, J and glad the writing is going well for you! I can’t believe it’s already June. Mine is starts and stops as far as busyness. I do remember when I was young though and like you, I was one of this weird kids who couldn’t wait for school to begin again. I loved school. Still do and if I could go anything and do anything, one of those things would be going to school. Happy Summer to you and yours and take care, my friend!

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    • I would’ve loved an all-year school with shorter breaks staggered through it. I have the sneaking suspicion not too many people would agree with me, though. 😉 Just when I think I’ll have some free time this summer, something seems to step in to claim the time—and it’s not usually my writing. Ah well, all part of being an adult with grownup responsibilities, right?

      And at least we can still learn things on our own if we’d like, even if we can’t be in school. I truly believe that we should still be learning about ourselves and the world up until the very end.

      You have a great summer, too, Brigitte, and keep writing!

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  7. Summer! Summer! Endless days – water – woods – books!
    Not as enthusiastic about the long hot scorching days now (Swear that living in AC for years has made me wimpy …it never mattered growing up with only fans)
    Bare trees in that picture….the mystery builds ( and not going downhill as in that pictured slope…) Hope the writing is fun and working.

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    • I’d be miserable now without A/C, but growing up I was 8 or 9 before my parents bought a window air conditioner—just one. But sometime in high school, they had central air put in. And except for a few apartments in college and grad school, I’ve had it ever since. And I’m much more of a heat wimp than I ever was, too.

      When I can write, I’m enjoying it, and that’s a good feeling. But even thinking about the story is good, too. I may not get it written as fast as I’d like, but I think I will get it written!

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  8. I used to love summertime as a child. We were lucky enough to live close to a pool and me and my friends could walk or ride our bikes there…although the road was along some woods and my brothers used to scare me about what might be lurking in those woods. And then there was the annual camping trip to Wisconsin to see mom’s family. Always enjoyed that and used to laugh at mom when her Wisconsin accent would come back out after so many years of living in Missouri. 🙂 But I will also admit that at some point I was most anxious for school to start. We could not wait to get our schedules and homeroom teacher’s name mailed to us so we could all so who was going to be in the same homeroom. 🙂 Love the summer memories of childhood…and look, here I am in Wisconsin as an old retired lady for a few weeks!

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    • Ah that northern Wisconsin accent. 🙂 Paul has no trace of it except for the occasional odd expressions, like, “could you borrow me some money?” I’m thinking something like that is a translation from the Belgian French…. And what is it about brothers getting so much enjoyment from scaring their sisters?! That seems to be a universal trait. 😉

      No chance for me to get bored this summer—too much work to do, I’m afraid. Something tells me we’ll enjoy retirement when we get there, too!

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  9. I’m glad you like your characters a lot. In my opinion (which, of course, I treat as iron-bound fact), you’d be doing it for the wrong reason otherwise.

    For a long time summer didn’t mean much to me, either, particularly as I live in a Mediterranean climate. However, now that I have school-age children, I’m starting to “feel” summer again. Also, I’m self-employed, but a few times a year I work an office job for a few days or a couple weeks while other people go on vacation. That happens most in the summer.

    I think if I lived where you do, and had a compliment of four full seasons, I would definitely be aware of summer more. I think it would be too hot for me. I’ll bet spring is lovely in MD (where I believe you’re from); I’ve only been there in God-awful summer, and once, briefly in November.

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    • If I were writing in hope of becoming the next JK Rowlings or Stephen King, I’d be facing a huge disappointment by now. Better to do something like this for the enjoyment. Anything that might come beyond that is simply frosting on the cake.

      Having four seasons really does make a difference. In the depths of winter, the thought of a mild year-round climate is appealing. But then I’d probably miss my two favorite seasons, spring and fall. And they can be glorious here in Maryland (you are correct). Summers can be stifling hot with mold-friendly humidity, and I can’t imagine coming out here for a vacation then. April and October are best in my book, but they don’t work well if you have kids in school. If you can ever swing those months, though, that’s the time to see MD/DC/VA.

      Enjoy your Mediterranean-style summer (which should be much nicer than my Mid-Atlantic one) with the kids—they will be grown before you know it.

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  10. Ah, I can’t remember the last time I had all summer to do whatever I wanted. And yes, when I did, I too was bored by early July. I too thrived as a learner. This June is super busy but with things I chose to do so I can’t really complain. Too much. At least warm evenings allow a chance to relax outside with a fermented beverage so I can go at it again the next day. 🙂 Okay, I confess, I can’t really do that every night if I’m to be of any use the next day.

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    • Usually I find busyness easier to deal with when I’ve chosen everything that’s on my plate. It’s a little harder when it’s mostly work-related. 😉 Those fermented beverages can be soothing. And I would think that in your profession, the day job could easily exact a toll in terms of stress and frustration. Good stress management has to be in your repertoire and is far more helpful than a glass of wine in the long run. 🙂

      But a few of those refreshing beverages over the summer shouldn’t hurt. 🙂

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    • Having too many stories to write is an excellent reason to take a break! And I hope your Autumn will be inspirational and allow you the time needed to set down those new tales. Those of us in the audience are looking forward to reading them, you know! 🙂

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  11. I always love the beginning of summer and all the things I plan to fit in the 8-9 weeks or so. As a freelancer and stay-at-home mom, I still “get” a summer, to a degree. Although I’m tied to my kids and what they need, I am not running around as much, and I don’t have to be anywhere specifically every single day. This will help as I try to figure out where I can do more writing. I’d really like to sleep in this summer. Even 5am would be sleeping in!

    I think you’re right though, summers can drag if there aren’t enough different things to look forward to. I hope to plan day trips here and there, and we have a camp that we go up to on the weekends.

    I hope that your summer is everything you want it to be, and that you are able to write to your heart’s content.

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    • My sleep preferences are really keyed toward light. It’s so hard to get out of bed in the depths of winter. But during these long days? By 5:30 I’m waking up because it’s already bright. But trying to get up earlier would be so hard. I don’t know how you manage it. 🙂

      I hope you’ll find the schedule that works to allow you more writing time. You have such great stories to tell, and I know a lot of folks would enjoy reading them. I’ll be busier than I’d like, but of course, that’s also good for job security. So I’ll find a way to make some progress on the writing front. 🙂

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  12. Nice photos. June looks like a long slow month for me. It’ll be quite a few more weeks (months?) with my husband recovering from his injury. I put an update on my blog on May 28th. Hope you find some time to enjoy the summer weather this fine month of June.

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    • I’ve had the chance to enjoy bits of the month, but not as much as I’d like. It’s just a stretch where everything happens at once instead of an orderly progression of one or two bits at a time. And I can’t complain about an increased work load because a good job is not something to take for granted. But I’m never fond of that overwhelmed feeling.

      I hope your husband’s recovery will go quicker rather than slower. It’s tough, though, the older we get. The body just doesn’t heal as easily as it did when we were younger. So make sure he does everything the physical therapists prescribe, hard as it may be.

      Take care, and I hope your Florida weather will be milder than normal. I have heard the hurricane season isn’t predicted to be too bad this year. Fingers crossed!

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  13. You probably know, here in the UK the school summer break is only six weeks, from around July 20, to the beginning of September, but then I think we get more the rest of the year – 2 weeks at Christmas, 2 weeks at easter, and then 3 x 1 week in between all of those. So about 13 weeks off over the year, plus a few random days. Although there is talk of reducing the overall number of weeks off. I’ll take a couple of weeks off over the summer but mostly I’ll be working and studying through, so it won’t be all that different for me than the rest of the year.

    I like the atmosphere captured in those pictures, I can almost feel the story already!

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    • Those shorter, more frequent, breaks are so much better. So many studies have been done showing that US school children would retain more information and need less “rehash” time at the beginning of the fall term if we would do away with that long summer break. But business comes first here, and the tourism industry would throw a huge fit if we actually tried to make education a priority. On top of all that, today’s students have more days off during the year than I ever had, too. But I’ll try to stay off my soapbox…. 😉

      I’m trying to surround myself with images that reflect my WIPs, hoping that they’ll inspire me when I do have time to write. I have the next one ready for a future post, and I think it’s a fun one. But it might leave readers wondering what it means. 😀

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  14. Have a great summer and lots of inspiration! For me, summer started when my mom put me on the train from Vienna to a small town in Bavaria to stay with my grandparents. I loved them dearly and they spoiled me with letting me ride my grandpa’s bike! Little treats that don’t sound like much in today’s lifestyle, but they are treasures to remember.

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    • Oh, I envy you having such a relationship with your grandparents! My maternal grandfather died when I was 14 months old, but even if he hadn’t, they wouldn’t have been close to me. I was a daughter’s child and so not a “real” grandchild in traditional Serbian (or Greek) culture. And my paternal grandparents never seemed that interested in me, either. Growing up, I didn’t think much of it. But now, well, I think of how different it was for so many of my friends, and I wonder what I missed.

      The simple pleasures really are the best. It’s too bad that so many children born after the computer revolution will never understand that!

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  15. I completely empathize with the idea if not wanting to go back to those uni days, not just because I grew up so much more after those years. The “break” in learning always slowed me down. I like having a job I enjoy, but I also love not losing momentum on my personal projects, like my stories. As an undergrad, I always felt like I needed to veg out over break, or I wasn’t being a real student. Now, I realize how silly that outlook was!

    June is a family month for me, this year, so it’s turning out to be quite busy. I’ll relax again when it’s just about work. 😉

    Bring on that fresh excitement for your stories! I’m cheering you even if it means you’re away. 🙂

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    • I have some family commitments, too, plus a bunch of new projects at work, just as I suspected would be the case. 😉 Much as I wish they would be spread out more evenly across the year, I know that ain’t gonna happen. Back in school, I would’ve been happier with more frequent, but shorter breaks. And now, when there is no such thing as summer vacation, I really wish so many of the holidays weren’t shoved into the coldest and darkest months of the year. I mean, we get very short breaks for Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day during the nicest months. But packed into November-February are Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, MLK Day, and Presidents Day. And I might be forgetting something….

      Ah well. I’ll deal with it as I always do. 😛 Hopefully, I’ll still make some progress on the WIPs!

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      • I don’t think so – winter is definitely top-heavy for holidays, for us. I have certainly noticed how nothing much tends to get done between when we come back from Thanksgiving break until the semester end in late December. Almost like, “Why come in at all?” 😉

        My husband said recently how he’d like to have summers completely off from work, but I disagreed. Part of the reason was your post got me thinking more critically about what I need to keep momentum with all my projects, and that’s consistency. So, though I wouldn’t mind a sabbatical in the south of France, I think I’m better off all-around with sticking to the current schedule. 🙂

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  16. Ah, summer…always the best season even if I’m working. As a kid, I recall coming home with a pile of novels from Scholastic. It was so exciting. I would lie on our lawn and read them. If I wasn’t doing that, I would be riding my bike with my friend, Lucy, to the public pool where we’d swim all afternoon and on the way back home stop to buy ourselves Popsicles. Life was so carefree then. So easy.
    Have a wonderful summer and good luck with your WIP. 🙂

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    • I loved having the time to read all those Scholastic books! Ordering them was such fun—do they even have such things these days? I gobbled up the mysteries like they would disappear if I didn’t. And after I devoured them, it was off to the library to clean out its shelves.

      I was never a big swimmer, and the pool wasn’t that close, but some time was spent there. And hanging out with my best friend was always fun. But I was always ready for school to start up again. 🙂

      You have a great summer, too, and I hope your writing flourishes as well!

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      • Thank you. It’s very kind of you to say.
        I agree that ordering the Scholastic books was fun and the thrill of when they arrived!
        I think Scholastic still exists but probably children are more on their pads playing games.

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  17. How I miss those carefree summer days of my youth, believe me! Growing up in Southern California meant pools and beaches mixed in with lots of reading and socializing. I was always a lover of school and usually got bored by July. But, looking back, I think I’d be fine with that boredom again. : )

    Have a great time recharging the batteries. I’ll be taking off a month at the end of summer after I get this book launched.

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    • I have to admit—even a month free of responsibilities sounds awfully tempting just now. 😉 Maybe when my husband and I can retire? (Please, please, please!)

      Something tells me summer in Southern California was a far different experience from summer in northern Illinois. Pools, yes. Beaches? Not so many unless you grew up on one of the Great Lakes. I didn’t. 😉 But there seems to be a common thread among the writers in this group—we were all ready for school to pick up again. Something tells me that’s no coincidence.

      Enjoy that month’s break—you deserve it after all the work in getting the latest book to press!

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  18. I had to smile at your comment that careers don’t take a break just because it’s summer.
    A study was done in several small colleges in the midwest, asking their graduates what they’d NOT been taught in college to prepare them for the future. The #4 answer was “After being in college, we needed a reality slap to remind us that the real world, and real jobs and careers, don’t take a break during the summer or allow us to take a semester’s breather to find ourselves.”
    Excellent post!

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    • I completely understand how that #4 answer came about! We spend our most formative years with this big chunk of “free time” in the summer, and then, unless we end up in a teaching career, suddenly find ourselves with maybe two weeks of vacation and a few holidays when we start work. That is one rude awakening! I really think American culture needs to be rethought for the 21st century, Some parts of it are outdated and not working as they once did.

      That being said, I hope you’ll be able to enjoy some relaxing time over your summer!

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  19. Ahhh summer brings back so many good memories — I could go on and on about the long, hot, never-ending days. I would love to have a summer off like that now. I wonder if it would feel as magical? I know I’d do my best to make it so!

    Been so swamped at work myself lately. Until I hire a replacement I’d doing everything I can to keep everything I’m juggling in the air and not let one thing drop. Squeezing in some writing and enjoying it!

    I hope you get to break away from work a bit and get your own writing done! Can’t wait to hear about it and your summer! Hope it’s fabulous, fun, long, and productive for you 🙂

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    • I’m afraid that if I had a long break, I would either try to do too much or would waste too much of the time! Finding that “Goldilocks balance” is so hard for me. 🙂

      I’m really hoping things will settle down for a bit in the last part of July and August before the busy month of September. We could use a bit of a breather then. But even now, I’m still trying to spend time with the WIPs, even if that means bits and pieces of research or drawing sketch maps of various locales in the stories. I’ll share bits and pieces of them as I finish them—without giving any clues to characters or plots! 😀

      You have a fantastic summer, too!

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  20. That first picture is breath-taking. To me, June means no more homeschooling my girls. Hooray! And lots more time to get work, writing, and reading done. LOVE! Enjoy your summer!

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    • That photo was taken over Memorial Day weekend, and you can see that summer has already arrived in the Mid-Atlantic, despite the late start to spring!

      Ah, so you get to enjoy the teachers’ summer off. My sister has always loved those, too. 😉 Here’s to a summer fill with reading, writing, and other fun stuff!

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  21. I’ve always thought there should be some sort of summer vacation for adults. Something to break up the monotony of going to the same job day after day.

    That being said, I wouldn’t take a long break like that with my writing. I actually spend most of my time off writing. And sipping margaritas of course.

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    • Oh, does a margarita sound good just now. 🙂 Way too busy, and I don’t think I’m going to get to visit many blogs over the next two weeks.

      So many European countries take much of August off. Couldn’t we do the same with a week in June and another in August? I think the breathers might do all of us a ton of good!

      Writing.Progresses.Slowly. But at least it is moving forward!

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