Category Archives: Summertime

Eclipse Sisters? That’s us.

Today we have a sunrise–a real one–after a week of soaking rain. And oh, the difference sunshine makes for the Pacific Northwest. Spring at last!

And spring brings hope for summer.

Tell you what, this summer I’m looking forward to the Great American Eclipse. August 21st has been on my calendar for a while, although it doesn’t need to be. If our skies are cloud-free that morning, we won’t be able to miss what happens.

Map courtesy of

It’s also cool for us here at Jane Started It because of its path. The total eclipse lies just south of Susan Kaye and me here in Oregon. It also lies just south of Robin Helm and Gayle Mills in South Carolina.

We met on-line, we share a blog. And now we will share the path of the sun’s shadow.

All of North America will be able to see at least a partial solar eclipse, according to the Great American Eclipse website. Do have a look around. There’s fascinating stuff there.

How about you? Are you in the path of the eclipse?

Laura Hile (1)

Of little boats and books …

Photo: Toy Boats by Toby Oxborrow (Creative Commons Flickr)

Our books, like little boats, go sailing … Photo: by Toby Oxborrow (Creative Commons Flickr)

Rita's Beach Read

Rita took Darcy to a surfside resort

A writer releases a novel,
sending it out, alone,
to make its way in the wild world.

It’s like something out of a fairy tale.
Not the end of a fairy tale, the beginning.
The “cold, cruel world” part.

You know, like the three pigs?
Or Hansel and Gretel? Or Puss ‘N boots?
Leaving home on the toe of a boot?

Meredith added Darcy to her library

Meredith added Darcy to her library

Yeah, we writers pitch our books out there.

“Off you go, little book.”
“Make your fortune, live your life.”

And then the little book DOES.

I sit back, amazed. Oh the places books go! Who knew?

Here are a few Darcy By Any Other Name “book selfies” readers have shared. I love them.

Anita showed him a perfect wave

Anita showed Darcy a perfect wave

Where Go the Boats?
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Dark brown is the river,
Golden is the sand,
It flows along forever,
With trees on either hand.

Green leaves a-floating,
Castles of the foam,
Boats of mine a-boating –
Where will all come home?

Mark won the CIR a giveaway

Mark won the CIR giveaway

On goes the river
And out past the mill,
Away down the valley,
Away down the hill;

Away down the river,
A hundred miles or more;
Other little children
Shall bring my boats ashore.

Sue's Darcy lives in the country

Sue’s Darcy lives in the country

Kelly took him along to the pool

Kelly took him along to the pool

Laura Hile (1)


My books are like those little boats.

And “Book Selfies” show me where they come ashore.

Safe harbor, home at last.

There’s an app for that…


Who knew the coffee house vibe was so productive?

Many creatives swear by the coffee house vibe. I can see why. Photo: Wonderlane (Creative Commons Flickr)

Ah, the hum of the coffee house. For me, it’s an inexpensive place to chat with a friend. For others, this atmosphere offers a lifeline to creativity.

There’s a special combination: The upbeat music, the muted conversations, the hiss of the espresso machine–ha! and the caffeine. It’s a synergistic thing that gets many people working, writing, thinking, and doing. Me, I go there to talk for hours. And I come home smelling like coffee grounds.

Not walking two miles to Starbucks

No! Not walking those two miles to Starbucks! It’s 90 degrees today!

Home’s the best workplace for people like me.  See, I work on the cheap. I make coffee here–already paid for– and get the laptop up and running. Then I start in. These days I’m sharing a car–our latest experiment. To go to a coffee house, I’d have to drive my husband to and from work, or else walk to Starbucks–a mile each way–toting my not-so-small laptop. The hike home is all uphill. Uh, no.

So I fake the coffee house vibe with apps. My  fondness for mental wandering needs help to stay focused. One app I use is a pomodoro-type timer called Clear Focus. It keeps me on task for 25 minutes at a time–no backtracking, no stopping. No Facebooking or Tweetiing. It’s amazing how much I can accomplish when I stay at it.

And then there’s CoffitivityThis is a white noise app that mimics the atmosphere of the coffee house. I originally downloaded this for use on the train, because conversations around me can be distracting. This week I’ve been using it for the creative sound vibes. They help!

Tools of the trade: calendar, Kindle text, laptop

Tools of the trade: strict calendar goals, Kindle text, laptop

The Mercy’s Embrace re-release is a giant project, and I’m running for daylight. Proofreading is something I can do during the school year, but typing?  Rather than hire a firm I’ve decided to type out the text from the Kindle edition of my books. Another real life illustration that you need to back up your back-up files–because you never know.

No whining from me! This project is an excellent opportunity to make good writing even better. Honest. I’m loving it.

And hey, it’s still summer. For Robin and Gayle, Monday, August 15th, is the first day back in the classroom. A sobering reminder that the school year, it is a-coming.

Laura Hile (1)

Sisters’ Summer at the Sea

Last Sunday afternoon, my sisters and I left for our first (and what we hope will be annual) beach trip. We stayed in my former brother-in-law’s condo just across the street from the ocean, close enough to walk on the sand and wade through the estuaries in the warm breeze.


Layne, Gayle, and me

It was a trip of inaugural events. I hadn’t worn a swimsuit in at least twenty years, but Gayle brought two along with the intent to change that, and she did. We have both lost quite a bit of weight, thirty-three pounds for her and thirty-two for me, and she was ready for us to celebrate. Layne has never been heavy, but we love her anyway.

20160801_174632 (2)

Our view at dinner on Tuesday evening


We ate out, shopped, and went to a movie. We talked of childhood memories and updated each other on our children and grandchildren. We did what we wanted to do without worrying about whether or not husbands, children, or grandchildren were entertained.

As Mrs. Bennet would say, “A little sea bathing set me up forever.”

There’s nothing any of us love more than being with our families, but it’s nice to have no one to answer to occasionally. 20160801_112435 (2)

Who knew being in our sixties would be so much fun? It’s liberating to accept yourself for who you are and how you look. If others cannot love you without changing you into their image of what you should be, they aren’t very good friend material.

It reminds me of a poem  by T. S. Eliot.

“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

I grow old… I grow old…

I shall wear the bottom of my trousers rolled.

Do I dare to eat a peach?

Walk barefoot upon the beach?

Well, yes. I do.


Southern Fried Austen will return next week.

Let Freedom Ring

 "Bridgetown" Photo: Gerrit Quast (Creative Commons Flickr)

Downtown “Bridgetown” Photo: Gerrit Quast (Creative Commons Flickr)

Tonight we will be heading downtown for fireworks. That’s what you get when your kids are in their adventuresome 20s. Scorning inconvenience, they want to go out and do stuff.

Freedom gives us this right. As citizens, we can peaceably assemble in public places. Although this is Portland, so weirdness will be present too. I’ll keep on the watch for the Unipiper. (That’s him below, yeah, in the Darth Vader mask playing flaming bagpipes.)

I also have the right to own property, to protect my family, and to freely share my thoughts. I can publish books, too, and send them out into the wide world. It’s an amazing freedom, one I hadn’t thought much about until this spring when I did exactly that.

Photo: Southwest Bible Church

Photo: SW Bible Church

And today I walked to church for morning prayer and coffee.  We sat down together like we do every weekday and prayed openly–in a lighted room in front of enormous plate glass windows. Freely, without fear of interference. (Except the sleepy kind. Coffee helps with that.)

Portland's own Unipiper (Photo: Twitter)

Here he is, Portland’s own Unipiper (Photo: Twitter)

In these troubled times, we dare not take our freedoms for granted. I can take no credit for them; I stand on the shoulders of my forefathers and fellow citizens, who scorned Liberty’s cost and dared to make a stand.

Freedom from tyranny is worth celebrating. Happy 4th of July!

Laura Hile (1)

I know I have a problem

DriftingMoonWe aren’t even into the full-swing of summer. My granddaughter hasn’t put a hole in her wading pool that has to be patched yet, and alas, last week was the summer solstice.

The longest day this year was also a full moon, called a Strawberry or Algonquin moon. (This has to do with the beginning of strawberry picking season.) The Old Farmer’s Almanac has a great primer on the solstice if you wish to brush up.

As I watched the news stories on the day and how long it was, two things came to mind: 1. The days will now start getting shorter. I know, only a few seconds at-a-time, at first, but I know it’s still going on–like digestion–even if I can’t see it.

2. The really BIG news:





Everything is a two-edged sword.

Take some time to simply Be

“There is a temperate zone in the mind,
between luxurious indolence and exacting work;
and it is to this region, just between laziness and labor,
that summer reading belongs.”

~ Henry Ward Beecher

Photo: Ken Teegardin / (Creative Commons Flickr)

Summer hours spent reading and thinking. Necessary indolence, I say. Photo: Ken Teegardin / (Creative Commons Flickr)

“The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning…” My windows are open, birds are chattering, it is not raining. Ah, the glories of a summertime morning!

Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes.”

~ Matt Redman, 10,000 Reasons

In all your summer planning, don’t forget to make time for “nothing.” Quiet time, reading time, time to simply be. Our workaday cadence keeps us frantic and occupied. This summer, look for a quiet hammock…

Laura Hile (1)