Tag: novels

Need a Shot of Inspiration? You Can’t Beat Lakeside Ohio


Our cottage this week at Lakeside.

My happy spot is a gated community on the shores of Lake Erie called Lakeside. My family and I have rented a cottage this week and are busy taking in the sights and sounds of the summer season.

Like its more famous cousin in New York, Lakeside is a Chautauqua-style vacation spot dating back to the late 1800’s. Visitors breathe in its history and shroud of vacationing happiness from the moment they pass through the gate. Writers draw inspiration from the ivy crawling up the sides of the quaint, and sometimes creepy, Victorian cottages. At least I do.


Vines grow up the sides of this old cottage. Could it be haunted? If so, they’re happy ghosts.

Something for everyone
Lakeside has entertainment galore for young and old alike. The kiddies can run and shout in the splash pool, collect sand in their bottoms on the beach, or jump and climb on one of the many playgrounds sprinkled throughout the grounds.


Felix Cavalieri’s Rascals at Lakeside, Ohio

Teens can play video games, ping-pong, foosball or good old-fashioned board games in the teen center by the lake. And people of all ages can compete in shuffleboard, miniature golf, tennis, and basketball or enjoy nightly entertainment in Hoover Auditorium. On Saturday, we were entertained by Felix Cavalieri’s Rascals.

If games aren’t your thing, well then, you may want to sign up for an art class at the Rhein Center, take a yoga or cooking class, set sail on a sailboat or enjoy a walk by the lake. This week, I’ll turn hammered silverware into plant markers and make a lighted glass block. I’ll also connect with fellow author, Jena Henry, who teaches a class on self-publishing each week during the season.

There’s ice-cream and shopping, too — half the fun is moving around by bike or golf cart from store to store.

To have and to hold
This is our twenty-third year for Lakeside. (Don’t I feel old.) My husband and I first drove through the gate to celebrate our one-year anniversary in 1993. Lakeside grabbed a hold of my heart on that visit, and we’ve returned every year since, eventually bringing our children, friends and extended family with us.

From time to time, I try to articulate what makes Lakeside unique in this day and age of exotic vacations and four-star hotels. The accommodations are not fancy. You bring your own sheets and towels in most of the cottage rentals. It’s not uncommon to sit on mismatched furniture or sleep in beds with patchwork quilts. In the cottage where we are staying, family photos decorate the walls in the dining room, along with a collection of teacups. Harmless bugs, called Mayflies, swarm in from off the lake and roost in the rafters on the outside patio. The houses are built so close together, the smell of the neighbor’s dinner on the grill drifts into the yard, making my mouth water.


Family photos on the walls of our cottage rental.


Mayflies cling to the roof on our patio.

Mayflies cling to the roof on our patio.


Tea for two or more...Lakeside have its own tea room but these teacups are on display in our rental.

Tea for two or more…Lakeside does have its own tea room, but these teacups are on display in our rental.

No the accommodations are less than desirable, and yet, I find myself relaxing into the cushions on the wicker chairs and soaking in the ambience of the place, like the air plant on my kitchen window at home after a long period without water. Today, I churn out 1,000 words on my current manuscript, and I write this blog.

One of the many beautiful flower displays, which grace the grounds of Lakeside.

One of the many beautiful flower displays, which grace the grounds of Lakeside.

“Smell that?” My mother-in-law asks, peering into the window of the cottage across the street, which is for sale.

I dutifully take a whiff. The musty smell of old wood and damp, like a thousand storms off the lake, assaults my nostrils.

“That’s the smell of old houses.”

“I love that smell,” I say. Even as the words leave my mouth, I realize I do love that smell.

“You do?” she asks.

“Yeah,” I say, but I find myself at a loss for words to explain why.

Perhaps that is Lakeside’s magic. One hundred years from now, you and I won’t be here, but Lakeside will still welcome tired vacationers to its shores — to be rejuvenated, to soak in its history, and to try and put words to its mystique and charm, which has us returning year after year.

A step back in time. My husband and I pose by the inn we stayed at 23 years ago.

A step back in time. My husband and I pose by the inn we stayed at 23 years ago.

Need a Shot of Inspiration? You Can't Beat Lakeside Ohio #TWRP #Lakesideoh #NEORWA Click To Tweet

I don’t like to write. It’s work.

The day I finished writing my first book I was flying high. I mean that both figuratively and literally. I was in an airplane on a vacation to visit family in Arizona.

This was not the first time I had attempted to write a novel. I have five unfinished novels in files on a flash drive somewhere. Over the years I found one excuse after another for why I couldn’t find the time to finish them. I was too busy. I had too much responsibility. I was too tired.

I blamed my job, my kids, my kids’ activities, my husband, groups I chaired, how I felt, a messy house, my inability to focus. Sometimes I blamed other books…it was so much easier to read them then to write them.

I wasn’t even sure I liked to write. I mean, I had to do it all the time on my job, so why the heck would I want to write when I got home?

Then I would be inspired by something – my children, a love song, something I read or watched on TV, a winning baseball game. The urge to capture the moment in words was strong. I would drop everything and start writing. Until I ran into writer’s block, and then the excuses started all over again. It was just easier to quit then to keep writing. So I quit. Over and over and over again. Time passed. A lot of time.

Then one day, I heard a bit of advice from a successful author. I was listening to a self-help CD on a topic that had nothing to do with writing. The CD was actually meant for someone else. The woman on the tape was talking about her struggle with anxiety and stress and her method to overcome them. But in the course of conversation, she said a funny thing.

She said she had struggled to publish her first book because she was afraid of failing. Her fear made her anxious. She lacked confidence. She didn’t know if she could write or particularly liked doing it. She worried she wouldn’t be successful.

Then she had an epiphany. What if writing were like exercise? She didn’t like to exercise, but when she went to the gym on a regular basis she felt better, which motivated her to keep going.

Two years ago, I started feeling bad. My job was really stressful. I had gained weight. My hair fell out in clumps. I had to go to the dermatologist for a skin disorder. I suffered from terrible heartburn and acid reflex that had me up at night. I needed to do something to change things and fast. So I began to run. At first I could barely run around the block. But soon I was running a mile and then two. I joined a gym and began working out with a trainer. I lost 10 lbs. My hair stopped falling out. My skin disorder cleared up.

I wasn’t getting any younger though. The words of that author came back to me. Did I really want to write? Wasn’t that my dream? What if I treated my writing like exercise? A little bit every week, consistently. Don’t stop, no matter what. Keep on going, no matter the distractions.

I decided to give it a try. I wrote in bits and pieces and snatches of time. At my kids swim meets and during volleyball tournaments. Late at night when the rest of the house was asleep. On that airplane.

Nine months later, not only did I finish the book, but I learned something about myself. I like to exercise. I like to write. And the more I do both, the better I feel.

In Arizona, celebrating the completion of my first novel.

In Arizona, celebrating the completion of my first novel.

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