Around 2 p.m. this past Sunday,
I finally forced myself into my old SUV and pointed it away from my summer sanctuary, the campground where Steve and I had parked our ancient fifth-wheel for the last four months. I'd been fighting the inevitable - that the short Prince Edward Island summer was officially over, that the hot summer days and peaceful sunset walks along the beach had come to a close.
Before I turned right to head out of the park for the last time, I thought it would be a nice gesture to stop by the office and thank the campground's owner for a wonderful season. When I pulled my sad soul back into the car, I guess I somehow communicated my angst about leaving to my car - Tribby, my Mazda Tribute, refused to move when I put 'er in reverse. Suddenly a set of flailing arms were waving at my window and some random tourist was crying out, "YOU'VE GOT A BIG PROBLEM, LADY!!!" Yeesh.
Once the shock passed, and I realized no bombs were being dropped around me (thank God), I forced open my door and found myself staring forlornly down at a huge puddle of something distressingly black and greasy looking. I had a problem all right - Tribby's transmission pump had blown wide open, and the oil that was supposed to make the old gal functional was now all over the campground's tidy asphalt.
Yeah. I felt like this guy.
Ready to cry.
The hardest part was pulling out my phone and realizing I would have to text Steve to come to my rescue. He was back at the trailer sorting out the whole antifreeze 'put 'er away for the winter' thing. I was thinking he'd like to put me away. Still, always my white knight, my reliable guy pulled up alongside me as I was rather dejectedly dragging my sandy flip-flops back towards our campsite. And he was okay about it. He even stopped by the Frosty Treat on the way home to buy me a final cookie dough flurry. Pretty sure my ice cream had a few tears in it (Mine, not his).
The thing about this writing journey is that it's a marathon, not a sprint. Hence my fear that Steve would lose his sh** at 'just one more thing' I would need from him. Heck, I'm pretty sure he'd rather be sailing than living in a tin box on the Darnley Basin for the summer, but he's an amazing man who I am incredibly blessed to have in my life. I waited a long time for him, and let me tell you, he was worth the wait. S0 - back to my story - Tribby's getting fixed, we are back living in our Summerside home, and life is slowly filtering back to hibernation mode (Which, for me, means three more Drifters books to spend the winter writing - yay!)
I had a wonderful time living in Darnley, I really did. Steve and I found some like-minded campers whom we shared many a campfire with (and more than a little wine). One of the gals became my beach friend, too, and I had a few yummy Palm Bay coolers with her alongside, both of us discreetly enjoying the 'view' (The water. I'm talking about the ocean. Git your mind off that good-looking guy in the white swim trunks). Steve and I went for lots of beach walks, I ate way too much ice cream, and we enjoyed some gorgeous kayak paddles on the Darnley Basin. I felt like a kid again flying along the dusty lanes of Twin Shores on my bike, and I danced - a LOT - to country music (yep, country was my thing this summer, I'll tell ya why in a sec) in patches of sunlight in my trailer (or on the deck if nobody was around, hee hee).
So - about that country music -
I started a Drifters book early this summer (#13 - crazy!) but I took a detour and decided to write a different novel instead (Sorry - I can hear Drifters readers hollering at me right now. Settle down, y'all!). I did it because a contest made the rounds on Facebook - a publisher was seeking the next 'Canadian Romantic Hero.' How could I resist! The buzz on my small island at the time was about an outdoor country music festival - I'd always wanted to go but just couldn't swing it - and so I donated two books to Kenny Chesney and hooked myself a volunteer gig. I never heard whether Kenny got the books - I had hoped he'd at least Tweet a thank-you, as the lovely Terri Clark did - but I worked three shifts, saw a TON of absolutely fabulous country acts, happily sighed at the sexy men on stage (Jacob Ryan, anyone? A man with black jeans and a guitar? I mean, really! Didya think I wouldn't notice?!), and drank a few more Palm Bays. And then one night, sauntering around the campground rattling off my day to Steve, who was either listening in silence or was ignoring my giddy chatter, it hit me. Canada's next romantic hero? The RCMP is done, ladies. Over and out. The guy needed to be a country singer. And he needed to be hiding out here, in my summer paradise.
'The Healing Island,' that's Prince Edward Island.
Steve and I wandered onto the beach. Summerside artist Maurice Bernard was there, knee deep in sand. He was teaching campers how to build sandcastles. I caught myself thinking about real castles and the people who lived in them. Pretty sure I had a past life living in a castle, lol (Seriously! Didn't you?). A young blonde mom was there with her son. She was watching him as he intently studied Maurice's demonstration. The kid had blonde surfer locks. My new book was born.
It's tentatively called 'Castles In The Sand,' and yes, I did enter the synopsis in the contest, but I've since gone ahead and written the entire novel. I finished the first edit on it a few days before we left Twin Shores. The cool thing about it is that it's essentially set in the same 'universe' as the Drifters books. I see potential tie-ins. It could continue into a series. And I already see Jessie Wheeler meeting the new book's stars - Cassie and Dallas - somewhere in the next three Drifters books.
So, one last note on the new book -
As with the Drifters books, a lot of synchronicities appeared as I was writing it. The first was in coming up with the guy's name - Dallas. I was doing dishes in my little trailer and had the local country station cranked (obviously Steve was not around, lol. He's not a fan!). I was running a few names around and around in my head, and finally thought, "Hey, I wonder if Dallas would be a good name for a country music singer." In that instant, the song on the radio ended and the announcer said, "And that was Dallas Smith."
Done. Name picked.
I was new to country music at the time and had never heard of Dallas Smith (I have now - I love his tunes!). My Dallas looks a bit like one of the guys from Florida Georgia Line - longish blondish hair - than he does Dallas Smith, and to me his voice has more of a Blake Shelton coziness. Like all my fictional guys, he's kind of a hybrid, I guess. He lives on S-8 - a tree-hugged campsite that overlooks the beach. A perfect place to hide!
I had sooo much fun hanging out at Twin Shores (aka Castle Beach, in my book) and 'seeing' Dallas and Cassie everywhere!
My summer sanctuary will never be the same!
Overall, our time living on the water was absolute Heaven. I am so incredibly blessed. Early in the summer I won VIP tix to another outdoor concert, featuring the likes of Matt Andersen and Alan Doyle. The next weekend was the Cavendish Beach Music Festival - the big country one, which featured Blake Shelton and Kenny Chesney, Cold Creek County (luv those guys), Emerson Drive, Dean Brody, and more.
Live music, to me, is just surreal.
The gals I worked with (in the volunteer tent) were fun and welcoming, and I hope to do this gig again next year. It rained like crazy on the third day, but I didn't care - it was atmospheric and fun tromping around like a little kid in rain pants, up to my knees in good ole P.E.I. red mud.
Matt Andersen, the weekend prior (my free VIP tix), blew my mind, as always. Guess what - he lives in Perth-Andover, New Brunswick, which is the small riverside town where I was born (I moved to P.E.I. when I was four months old).
There must be some real love of music embedded in the water there.
Now THAT man can play a guitar. Holy moley. My heart. Have I said Heaven already? His band was equally awesome. Do yourself a favour and go YouTube some Matt Anderson. He plays a lot of bluesy type stuff. I'm pretty sure I held my breath through most of his set (and during Ricky Scaggs' set at CBMF) because I was afraid if I breathed I would miss something.
What a wonderful season, living out at Twin Shores for the last four months.
My heart hurts to think about what I am missing today - the sparkling Darnley Basin, the sand underneath my toes, incredible sunsets. Campfires with friends, laughs, solo dance parties in my trailer. My sunflowers. Losing the freedom of having a vehicle at the same moment I left the campground meant that Monday was a very low day for me, one of those days when I had to keep telling myself that the tag line for the Drifters books is 'There is always hope.' I got past the darkness by reminding myself that it is an absolute blessing to be a self-employed writer; to have been able to stay 'in nature' as long as I did. I did not take a single sunset for granted. The challenge today is to seek out the healing peace of nature. To not stay indoors just because there are thicker walls between myself and the fresh air, and because the days are cooler. Besides, I can still have solo dance parties when I want to. Just as long as Steve is not home, ha ha!
Nature inspires me. Spending time amongst the birds and butterflies is healing and it's restorative. I need that time. I need to feel the wind on my face as I cruise around on my bike. I crave nature the same way I need music, the same way I need calm times for meditation and prayer. And vigorous times for exercise, for Zumba or for Yoga.
So, this winter, when I find myself feeling down, I will close the door behind me and head outside.
And as I walk, or bike, or ski or snowshoe,