Bay Cliff – Where Dreams Unfold

Bay Cliff Morning

This lil ol’ picture is not from the interwebs, people. This was taken on an old, crappy digital camera in 2007. The result was stunning, though. 

This is a picture of Bay Cliff Health Camp in Big Bay, Michigan. It’s in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula right on Lake Superior. This was taken at about six in the morning as I was saddened by the fact that I had to leave later that day and wanted to take this slice of beauty with me.

Bay Cliff was, and probably always will be, the best experience of my life. It’s a camp for children with special needs, and they’re there for physical, occupational, speech, and hearing therapy. They’re also there to have fun! Many of the children that attend this camp for seven weeks during the summer are the outcasts in their community and treated differently because they walk, talk, or wheel around unlike other “normal” kids. At Bay Cliff, they make friends, go swimming, camping, have cookouts, and experience things they wouldn’t have a chance to during the rest of the year. While at Bay Cliff, these kids can realize dreams they never thought possible, and Bay Cliff does everything in its power to make those dreams come true. Children have learned to walk over the course of one summer session, after having spent years in a wheelchair or walker or using crutches. It’s amazing what the dedicated staff and environment of Bay Cliff can achieve.

I worked there the summers of 2005-2007, and I’ll never be the same because of it. I was a camp counselor working with 3-5 year olds in wheelchairs, walking with crutches, who were hearing impaired, or had speech deficits. I was basically their mother for the duration of the camp season. And although it was the hardest thing in the world to do, it was also the best.

I’d post pictures of the kids I worked with, but I’m not allowed to per camp regulations. But I can post pictures of the other counselors and I being silly. 

Bay Cliff Arnold Impression

This was in 2006. I’m the one in the padded plaid shirt doing my best cowboy Arnold impression. It’s probably a “you had to be there kind of humor,” but the whole room was busting up laughing at our antics.

Bay Cliff Fun in the Wagon

I’m behind the camera on this one. We never got to ride in the wagons because we used them for the kids, so we thought we’d give it a go! This was taken after the kids had left and we were cleaning up the cabin. Just a small sample of our silliness. 

Bay Cliff Silly Pic

More silliness. These were the wonderful girls I worked with in 2007. Simply amazing women, each one of them. We were being meese in this picture. Moose? Mooses? Meese? Whatever. It’s based on a silly camp song about a moose. 🙂 I love camp songs. If given the opportunity, I’d belt out every single one I know.

And here’s another reason to love Bay Cliff:

Bay Cliff Ives Lake

This is Ives Lake, near Bay Cliff, where the staff go after the kids leave camp. Its beauty is barely glimpsed in this picture. Don’t you love it?

You can visit Bay Cliff’s website here, or like them on FB here and see the amazing kids that come to Bay Cliff and can’t help but put a smile on your face, but I’m not here just to plug this fantastic place. 

My primary objective is to describe how much experiences can impact our writing. Indeed, I think they are what impacts us most of all.

Bay Cliff is the basis of a good portion of my MG fantasy series. The MC, Ava, goes to boot camp, and a majority of the scheduling and organization of the camp is based on the experiences I had at Bay Cliff. Although Bay Cliff is far from a boot camp, it does have a rhythm that helps it flow effortlessly.

Bay Cliff is the most inspirational place I have ever experienced. I’ve been to Paris, which was awesome, but it didn’t compare with the beauty and uniqueness of what Bay Cliff offers. Which is what I hope to explore and share with others through my books. If and when I ever make a decent amount of money from my writing, I’ll donate a good portion of it to Bay Cliff. It’s a plan I’ve had in mind for many years, and I sincerely hope it comes to fruition.

What about you? What life experiences have most impacted your writing or is your inspiration for your writing? Have you ever spent time at a summer camp? Did you love it or hate it?

Happy writing! Bay Cliff in my heart forever!

 

“Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.” 
― Fred RogersThe World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember

“It has been said that life has treated me harshly; and sometimes I have complained in my heart because many pleasures of human experience have been withheld from me…if much has been denied me, much, very much, has been given me…” 
― Helen KellerThe Open Door

 

Midnight Musings

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Yep. That’s me right about now.

I feel like I fell off the WP wheel of the world for a few days. It has been a RIOTOUS week/weekend that wasn’t/beginning of the work week.

I was out of town all weekend, driving all over the southeastern side of the state, planning and executing a bridal shower, going to my parents’ for Mother’s Day, and driving home to an apartment that has seen the seedy underbelly of an insane schedule.

I didn’t sleep well at all (I never do when I’m anywhere but my own bed), so, naturally, I assumed I’d fall into bed and pass out for a good, solid 8 hours of noggin-resting.

Nope.

Nope, Nope, Nope!

Ergh!

At about midnight last night, my latent and recently lazy muse decided to come fully awake with the ideas and creative juices that have been sorely lacking in the last couple of weeks.

My muse is a masochist, I swear.

I couldn’t shut my brain up, and I almost cried from sheer exhaustion.

I guess there’s nothing like utter physical and mental burnout as a catalyst for some of the most important backstory and plotting I’ve had in the last few months.

Needless to say, I’m drunk on lack of sleep. And acting loopy.

Wait… that’s just a normal day for me. Hmm…

What do you do when your muse deprives you of necessary sleep? I told mine to shut up and wait until morning. And she did.

Man, I didn’t think she was that biddable. Take that, Mildred!

Happy writing!

“I love you, Lucien, but I am a muse, you are an artist, I am not here to make you comfortable.” 
― Christopher MooreSacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art

“The muses are ghosts, and sometimes they come uninvited.” 
― Stephen KingBag of Bones

Works in Progress

So I’ve been re-reading my former posts and realize I’ve been fairly vague on the type of books I’m writing. The only real mention of specifics is in my author interview from last week. Thanks, again, for that, Rachel!!

When I figure out how to create a drop-down menu with my current works in progress, I’ll get right to it, but since I’m such a noob at interwebs stuff, I guess I’ll describe a little bit about what I’m writing in a post.

The genres are wide-ranging and the topics dissimilar, so I hope I can pull them all off. I have an interest in so many genres that my brain just won’t shut up about invading every genre I love.

So here it goes, the following is a (brief!) synopsis of my current projects, and the progress I’ve made in them.

(All images courtesy of Google Images)

 

1. The Phantom Apprentice

ImageA middle grade fantasy series which begins when the MC, Ava, is 12 years old. She finds out she’s a phantom, which is a magical race of beings that are called to be guardians of the earth. Ava finds out she’s a crucial player in the success of the entire magical world, not just for her phantom race. I won’t give away exactly how yet, but there’s something special about Ava that sets her apart from everyone else in the phantom world. She has to go to boot camp, which requires a great deal of physical, emotional, psychological, and strategic training. Phantoms infiltrate all levels of society in order to perform their sacred duties, so they have to be immersed in hardship before they’re sent out on their own.

The series will consist of seven books.

Book One – Title: The Phantom Apprentice – Book of the Scribes. Complete at 105,000 words. Currently sending out queries to agents.

Book Two – plotted, partially written. About 20,000 of 120,000 words completed.

Book Three – plotted, minor writing completed.

Book Four – plotted, unwritten.

Book Five – plotted, unwritten.

Book Six – plotted, minor writing completed.

Book Seven – plotted, epilogue and a few chapters completed.

 

It’s quite an undertaking, I know, and the amount of research I’ve poured into this is staggering, but this HAS to be written. I began it eleven years ago, just as I was finishing high school. The majority of college and grad school (7.5 years total), was spent working the plot, researching, planning, reading, immersing, etc. Since I have a full time job and a few on the side, my writing time is limited, and when I take time off, they’re often ‘writing vacations’ so that I can get some work done. If I could find a way to work from home, or make enough money to write full time, I’d do it. That’s the dream, but for now, I’m paying my bills and writing as often as I can.

 

2. A Winger and a Prayer

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This is a squeaky clean RomCom centering around a made-up NHL team located in Houston. I needed a city big enough to support an NHL franchise that didn’t already have one. I plan on traveling there (if I ever have enough money), so that I can get the feel and flavor of the city. The heroine is basically me, and the hero is a pro hockey player. It’s essentially a love story that comes from the romantic part of my heart that is so often squelched by too many other things. It’s the story of my dream man. But don’t worry, he hasn’t ruined me for regular men. 🙂

Although it’s a RomCom, there are quite a few dark moments in it based on my past, my mom’s past, and the past of a friend of mine. I cried while writing parts of it, and LOL’d at others. It is a stand alone book with the potential for a series if there is interest. I love hockey, and am usually drawn towards eras other than my own, but I’ve found that I love to write in this modern romantic tale, so it’d be wonderful to develop other story lines from this book.

Progress: 50,000 words out of a proposed 80-90,000.

 

3. Prisoner Z

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This is a huge veer off my normal light-hearted writing. It’s a dark, futuristic dystopian book where society has “progressed” to the point of bigotry-induced forced slavery and genocide. This is a first person narrative (another veer from my normal third person POV), and is probably the darkest thing I’ve ever thought to write. The book is dripping with hopelessness, depression, suicidal tendencies, mass destruction, chaos, brutality, and a tiny ray of light that is continually squelched, only to pop up again. The three main characters are a 17 year-old boy (POV, age may change), a priest in his 50s, and a young woman about 20. The relationships between the three are interesting, to say the least. I won’t give away the ending, but it’ll make you cry. And, hopefully, make you think a good deal about the direction our society is heading.

Progress: plotting underway, minor writing begun.

 

4. Untitled Manuscript on Purgatory

This is basically based off an intensely vivid dream I had about Purgatory a few years ago. Set in a tall office building, Jesus appears to each person in a different form and challenges them in ways they don’t understand. Only if they pass the test do they proceed to Heaven. They’re tested as many times as necessary until they understand who He is and what He’s asking of them.

St. Peter sits in a wrinkled business suit behind a battered desk and pulls thick charts from filing cabinets that line the room.

Progress: 5,000 words of a projected 100-120,000

 

5. Untitled Murder Mystery

A friend of mine and I from grad school started writing this during our lunch breaks. It’s based around a couple who can’t have kids and adopts about six or seven of them. The mother/wife is murdered, and each child is implicated in her death. It’s dark, for sure, but there are lighter moments, as well.

Progress: plotting underway, minor writing completed.

 

6. Untitled Religious Satire

Set in a bygone era, it centers around a royal family in a make-believe kingdom. But there’s a catch. The royals aren’t seated in some fine castle with servants at their beck and call. Their job is to watch over their people, and they do that by immersing themselves in the work and culture of their time. They work side-by-side with their subjects, but are called on when evil lurks from another kingdom.

Progress: plotting underway. No formal writing completed.

 

7. Untitled Dystopian Future

Another dark, foreboding book which follows a soldier as he makes his way through the mires of another war. Set in the United States, where factions of allies are separated by the enemy, he has to make his way to his superiors without being caught, or without the vital information he carries being stolen from him.

It’ll be a bit bloody, but all wars are.

Progress: plotting underway. No formal writing completed.

 

8. Untitled Orphan Fantasy

This book (possible series) follows a blind, deaf, mute orphan who is shipped from one foster home to another. Each time, he is taken during the middle of the night by a band of elves, dwarves, and fairies to their land. There, his maladies are magically wiped away and he is taken through an adventure that shapes him into more of the person he is meant to be. This is geared towards lower middle grade readers, as the MC is about 8 years-old.

 

9. Untitled Historical Fiction 1

This will be a series of books set in northern California during the late 1800s, after the Civil War. There are four siblings, one brother and three sisters. Each sibling will have their own book. Yes, they will find love in each of them, but I love the setting and era, so there will be quite a lot of historical tidbits in each. Their parents were missionaries and were killed during a massive hurricane while crossing the Atlantic Ocean. The brother is the oldest, and they run a successful ranch from their mother’s inheritance, who was born a blue-blood in Boston high society. Each sibling is different from the others and has a distinct personality that links them to their surroundings and their friends.

Progress: plotting underway. Book one writing begun.

 

10. Untitled Historical Fiction 2

This is set in Texas, again in the late 1800s. It revolves around twin sisters who are bounty hunters. One of them is killed, and the other must find refuge from the person who wants to kill her. She ends up in a family of 12 children after a marriage of convenience, and hides her real identity from her husband, needing the protection the family affords, but also because she doesn’t want to place any of them in danger. Obviously, everything catches up to her and she’s torn between protecting the family she’s grown to love, or protecting herself.

Progress: plotting underway. Minor writing completed.

 

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Phew! That was quite a task. All ideas are copyrighted to me, of course. (I know I don’t technically have to say that, but the interwebs freaks me out sometimes when it comes to intellectual property).

If you’ve made it this far, I’d love to hear some feedback. And thanks for reading my lengthy post! These are the top ten projects I’ve got going right now, and I have about a dozen more than are in development, but not enough yet to share here.

Happy writing, everyone!

 

 

Norwegian Rhapsody

Have you ever seen the wild beauty of Norway? I haven’t – at least, not in person. And that’s a crying shame.

Norway is one of the settings in my middle grade book series, and I’ve been researching it for a long time. It’s beauty is captivating.

Have a look…

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Gorgeous, right? And what about this…

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I love this one! So much fodder for the imagination. Who does the boat belong to? What is the fog hiding? How would it be to hike up those mountains? What kind of magical creature could come from such a place?

Are there any countries/states/counties, etc. that speak to you? Whenever I look at pictures of Norway, I am filled with an intense longing to see it up close. I never cease to be inspired to produce a bounty of writing whenever I gaze at pictures like this.

Nature is such a part of who I am. Although I dislike bugs (yuck!), I feel much more comfortable surrounded by the wildness and untamed beauty of nature than the car-filled, smog-ridden streets of a big city. I will probably refrain from writing too many books centered in a big city. Moderate-sized cities only on the horizon. But I never say never.

Whenever I’m in a pot of writer’s block, I pull up all the images I’ve saved on my computer that reflect the settings I want to portray in my books, and off I go! Even if all that comes of it is a few sentences, it’s a step in the right direction. As Jack London so eloquently put it, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

I agree 100% with that statement. True writers write when they have nothing coming to mind. They write when they’re inspired, and they write when they’re not. They write in times of keen loss, and in times of overwhelming joy. They write because they have something to say, and they write when they have nothing to say (which sometimes produces the best results).

So what do you do to inspire yourself? How do you chase inspiration with a club? Are there any cities/countries/counties/states, etc. that leave you breathless with desire and passion for your work? Please, comment and share!

“The quickest, easiest way to produce something beautiful and lasting is to risk making something horribly crappy.”

– Chris Baty