We sent Youngest Daughter off to Hawaii with the Girl Scouts this week after a whirlwind weekend home for her. She got back from a 10-day vacation trip with friends late Friday night. Sunday afternoon she left for OKC where the troop caught a very early Monday morning flight for the islands. It’s eight girls and four adults, and the girls paid for their trip with money from cookie sales.
This trip has been a tedious thing, really. The travel troop was supposed to go to Hawaii in 2020, but that got rescheduled to Branson. They weren’t going to travel at all in ’21, but then decided on another trip to Branson.
Then they were going to Germany, France, and Switzerland this summer until the State Department raised the Covid danger level. That caused them to cancel Europe, but since they already basically had the Hawaii trip set up, they chose that. They get ten days in Hawaii and five in LA.
My kids have been fortunate in their travel opportunities, more so than you might expect from such a large family. My two younger girls traveled extensively through Girl Scouts, and my oldest went to Europe with People to People. The boys didn’t travel so much, for some reason. They had Boy Scout campouts though, and one of those was at Gettysburg, which was pretty cool.
It’s a little bittersweet because Youngest Daughter has decided that this is her last trip and that she’s done with Girl Scouts. That means we’re going to have to break down and buy cookies from someone else next season. I’m going to miss just grabbing a box from her supply every now and then and settling up at the end of the season.
I’m working my way through On Writing. I know I’ve read it in the past but I can’t remember when. This time I’m taking it in smaller chunks. I read the autobiographical stuff in one sitting, though I seem to recall taking that more slowly the last time I read it.
Grandson and I went to the library Monday where I returned last week’s books and we both got a couple of books. I also picked up Tammy Hoag’s Cold Cold Heart along with Mark Greaney’s Commander In Chief, a Tom Clancy/Jack Ryan story, for myself. I’ve always been a big fan of Clancy’s early work, up until about Dead or Alive, released in 2010. I can’t quite put my finger on what I disliked, but I just don’t think the later Clancy books were as good as the early ones like Hunt for Red October. Greaney came recommended so I was looking for one of his Gray Man books but found this one instead. I read it over three days (it’s 700 pages) and it was pretty good. It was somewhat formulaic, in that there was a major crisis that threatened the world, and Jack Ryan Sr. saved everything. There was a good bit of combat which Greaney covered at a higher level, as Clancy usually did.
Cold Cold Heart just absolutely floored me. It’s a tremendous thriller written from the viewpoint of a woman who suffered through a horrific attack and a traumatic brain injury. Hoag wrote a really gripping story and I felt she just absolutely nailed the point of view. Her portrayal of Dana Nolan’s struggles to come to grips with the limitations of her TBI rang perfectly true. I felt Dana’s frustration with her injury, with her mother, with her friends – all of it. I was peripherally aware of Hoag through her regular support of Writers Police Academy, but I hadn’t read any of her stuff until this one. Guaranteed I’ll be reading more.
Since I started the weekly blog streak, I’ve been writing more on the blog than in fiction: 5,594 to 4,889 words since the end of April. I suppose it has to do with the idea that my weekly posts have a more specific plan than just sitting down and thinking I don’t know what to blog about. That, and I try to pound out a few words every day for them. A few weeks ago I mentioned that I have a Master Writing Project Notes document to help me keep track of everything. I started it about a year ago when I realized I had far too many projects to keep track of them in my head. My idea was that reviewing this thing every week would help me stay focused on a particular project. I’m not sure how much it’s helped, though. I review it weekly and make notes about where each story is supposed to go, but I’m still having trouble actually getting fingers on the keyboard for a particular story. It’d probably help if I finished the edits on In Plain Sight now that I’ve got my big laptop back.
I really think I need to do more detailed outlines, too. Dean Smith has talked a bunch about “writing into the dark,” which is another way to refer to pantsers. I always hated outlining in school, and I let that carry over to writing. But as I sit here trying to wade through so. many. stories, I find that I can’t stay focused enough on a particular story to get into the flow and write well from the seat of my pants.
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