Saying Goodbye to Summer

Hello, and welcome to September! If you live in the U.S. or Canada, I hope you had a fun-filled Labor Day weekend.

Although summer hasn’t officially rolled up and called it a season (that will happen later this month), once the calendar inches past Labor Day, I consider it over. Maybe it goes back to childhood when returning to school ended afternoons of roaming sun-soaked fields and playing hide-and-seek well past dark. Who can forget the magic of a summer night with friends?

child on swing suspended from a leafy tree, starry sky strewn overhead

When I was in school, we didn’t start the new year until the day after Labor Day. To the child in me, that was the official end of summer. Game over, welcome to a reality check.

The first day of school was one of excitement…getting to see friends I hadn’t since early June, discovering new classes, classmates and teachers. But after the initial gloss wore off, I was more than ready to return to summer’s carefree lifestyle.

Now I see the passage of the season differently, but still mark its demise with a sense of sadness. Don’t get me wrong—I love autumn. I’m constantly telling my husband I couldn’t live anywhere that didn’t include all four seasons. I’d miss the change from one to the next (although I could do with a far shorter winter). He, on the other hand, would gleefully sign up for a zip code that offered tropical temperatures 365 days a year.

As summer fades, I note how the air smells differently, how the evenings grow shorter, and how even a slight breeze will send a kite-tail of leaves fluttering to the ground. The flower beds and decorative pots that once cried for water have sprouted into ungainly bushes, creating vibrant bursts of color in my yard. I have to turn lights on earlier than I used to in the evening, and my Green Mountain coffee selection has morphed from Island Coconut to Pumpkin Spice.

Seasonal change. It’s here.

I’m generally a productive writer, but summer puts a bite into my output. There are more events to distract me—picnics, parties and outdoor gatherings. In that respect, I’m looking forward to an autumn where I can snuggle inside and let my fingertips dance across the keyboard, creating characters and stories that involve all four seasons. Yes, I love summer, but autumn brings a new and different sense of exhilaration.

What about you? Do you have a favorite time of year that coaxes you to write more often than others?

Mae Clair Welcomes Mindy Hardwick with Romance for All the Seasons

There are times when you crave a good holiday romance. Other times, you’re looking for a seasonal romance, and sometimes you just want a collection of themed stories together. Well, Mindy Hardwick has taken care of that craving with her collection ROMANCE FOR ALL THE SEASONS. Please say hello and get to know Mindy!

Mindy, thanks for visiting my blog today. I’d love to know a little bit about your writing style. My favorite part of starting a new novel is coming up with character names. What is yours and how do you go about it? 

My favorite part of starting a new novel is coming up with the setting. I love creating a small town with interesting locations based on real places, such as the Elmheart Hotel in my sweet contemporary novellas.

I love doing that too. Small towns make the best settings for romantic tales. Elmheart Hotel sounds like a place I wouldn’t mind visiting. Tell us about your new release.  

ROMANCE FOR ALL THE SEASONS is s a collection of all six of my sweet contemporary romance stories. The stories are linked by the setting of the Elmheart Hotel in Western New York as well as the characters who are friends with each other.

Book cover of Romance for All the Seasons by Mindy Hardwick showing a couple embracingAs a reader, I enjoy when characters continue from one story to the next and they come to feel like old friends and family. How did you choose your title? 

The stories in ROMANCE FOR ALL THE SEASONS are each set in different seasons with many holiday stories included such as NEW YEAR HEART SONG, LOVE’S CHRISTMAS GIFT, and VINTAGE VALENTINE.

Fabulous! I’m especially intrigued by the New Year’s themed story. It’s a holiday that is often overlooked but is infused magic and the wonder of possibilities. Was there research involved in this novel? If so, what was the most interesting item you discovered? 

Three of the stories in ROMANCE FOR ALL THE SEASONS are set at the Elmheart Hotel. This was a real hotel along the shores of Lake Ontario during the late 1800’s. People took the trolley line from Rochester and enjoyed a day at the shore. In the early 1990’s, a boyfriend took me to see the hotel. By that point, it had fallen into disrepair and was no longer in use, but I fell in love with the possibilities of what had once been a great place for romance. The hotel burned in 1993, but by writing these stories, I hoped to return the Elmheart to all of the romance I once envisioned.

What a fantastic history. I hold a special passion for the romantic trappings of yesteryear. The allure of an old hotel, the trolley, the shore . . . it sounds like you’ve created a wonderful tribute to keep the memory of Elmheart alive.  I can imagine tucking away in a room and writing there too. If you couldn’t be a writer, what else would you choose to do? 

I would run a bed and breakfast in an old hotel!

Great answer! And I’d book a room to write, LOL.  If you could take a trip anywhere you wanted (your personal fairy godmother just bestowed a dream vacation on you) where would you go? 

Two weeks in Hawaii

What is your favorite season?

Fall

Your favorite social media platform?

Blogging

Favorite author?

Susan Wiggs

Mountains or beach?

Beach

Hawaii is on my list too, and I love the beach. I could live at the beach, LOL!  

Mindy, thank you so much for visiting with me today. I love the idea behind ROMANCE FOR ALL SEASONS, especially the setting, and will be adding it to my TBR. Thanks for sharing with my readers.

If you’d like to know more about Mindy Hardwick, connect with her at the following haunts:

Website
Facebook 

Blog 
Twitter 
Goodreads 

Casual photo of author Mindy Hardwick before a fireplaceAuthor Bio
Mindy Hardwick enjoys writing first love and sweet, contemporary romance for all ages and is known for her small-town stories. Mindy enjoys teaching others about writing and she frequently talks to writers groups, book clubs and libraries.When she’s not writing, Mindy can be found art journaling, visiting flea markets dreaming of new ways to repurpose old materials and walking on the Oregon Coast beaches with her dog, Stormy. Mindy believes that a great story can warm the heart, lift the spirit, and heal the soul.

Blurb for ROMANCE FOR ALL THE SEASONS
Bestselling author, Mindy Hardwick’s sweet contemporary Sailor Series and Elmheart Hotel Series are together for the first time in this anthology, ROMANCE FOR ALL SEASONS. These six novellas will delight your heart at Valentine’s Day, sweeten hot summer days, banish Halloween ghosts and goblins and warm your soul during the holidays.

Purchase ROMANCE FOR ALL THE SEASONS from Amazon 

Welcome Summer by Mae Clair

Today feels a bit like a holiday. It’s Friday, the end of the work week, gorgeous outside, and it’s the first day of summer!

beautiful girl enjoying the summer sun

As a kid, summer started for most of us the moment the afternoon bell rang on the last day of school. Remember the giddy exhilaration you felt as you burst through the doors and raced from the building with your friends? A glorious world awaited, full of trips to the beach, ballgames, swimming and exploring.

I’m old enough to remember when the pinnacle of summer fun included splashing through creeks, riding bikes, chasing butterflies and dancing with the wind. At night, my friends and I played hide-and-seek, told ghost stories and slept out beneath the stars.

Summer was also a time when the local Fireman’s Association sponsored a carnival in my small town setting up food tents, prize booths and an assortment of rides in the community ballpark. My friends and I couldn’t wait to clamber into the brightly-colored seats of the Ferris wheel, hoping to get stuck at the top for a bird’s eye view of everyone milling below (the adult in me shudders to remember that).

We gobbled up hot dogs, pizza, cotton candy and snow cones; spent the money our parents gave us on silly games like the dime-pitch, ring-toss, and duck pond. I remember trotting home with a goldfish in a plastic bag, a baseball-sized glass bowl, and some fish food. I’m sure my parents didn’t expect “Lucky” to last seven years, but he more than lived up to his name.

Years later, I still cherish the magic of summer, although I look at the calendar differently than I did when I was ten. Now the season starts for me with the summer equinox, the longest day of the year. In 2013, that occurs today (or did at 1:04 AM for those on the east coast of the U.S.).

When four o’clock rolls around, it won’t simply single the start of my weekend – it will also mark the beginning of a season of enchantment. Just thinking about it resurrects the same giddy sense of exhilaration I felt as a kid.

What about you? How do you plan to mark the day or celebrate your summer? Do you have any fond memories from childhood that still resonate with summertime magic?

Mae Clair’s Winter Celebration

We all know the world is ending today according to the Mayan Calendar . . . well, actually they ran out of room and neglected to chisel a new set of hieroglyphics for the next century.  That aside, (yeah, I know it’s hard to be blasé about  an apocalyptic event, but Y2K had it wrong first), today is also the first day of winter and the Winter Solstice. It’s the longest day of the year which means dark falls early.

Seems like an odd day for celebration.

Usually, my husband and I will fill  mugs with coffee or hot chocolate and drive around looking at displays of Christmas lights (not sure that’s going to happen this year as he’s fighting a bad cold). Occasionally, I’ve even packed cookies in the car to make the event more festive. By this time, we pretty much have a handle on the holidays. Decorations are up, cards are mailed, shopping is done, and it’s a time to kick-back and enjoy a bit of seasonal fun. I still have gifts to wrap, but I always reserve that for Christmas Eve during the day.

I can’t say I’m all that thrilled to officially usher in a season of cold, snow and ice, but there’s a spark of magic to be found in the mix. A stillness that settles on the land, especially at night, when the surroundings are wrapped in a hush. It’s an ageless music, underscored by a whisper of earth and sky, something the Vikings surely heard as they trekked across plateaus of snow ribboned with skeins of ice. As much as I could embrace a sun-kissed lifestyle in a tropical setting, I’d have to visit northern climates for the occasional dose of snow and cold. Sporadically, you understand, because winter isn’t without perks.

Happy couple near fireplaceCold weather is great for snuggling with your guy or curling up in front of a warm fire. If you’re the outdoorsy type there’s sledding, tobogganing and ice-skating. For astronomers or amateur stargazers, winter is the best time for viewing the heavens. The stars are like cut crystal on a bed of black licorice. They never seem closer.

You might say the romantic in me prefers to overlook the less savory unappealing okay, downright nasty features that go hand-in-hand with winter in the northern hemisphere.Things like snow shoveling, falling on the ice (been there, done that), scraping the windshield because-the-weather-guys-had-the-forecast-wrong-again-and-your-car-got-iced-while-you-were-at-work. There’s also the ever popular getting stuck on the drive home because you didn’t bring the SUV (see reference to highly inaccurate weather guys). And then there’s my favorite – – hives.

Yes, folks, I suffer from something called cold urticaria, a lovely little perk I developed during the Blizzard of ‘93.  If I’m exposed to the cold for an extended period of time, I break out in hives, yet another argument for living in a warm climate. My husband tells me I’m like a tropical fish who needs a minimal temperature of 76 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit to exist.

So assuming we’re all still around tomorrow and the world doesn’t implode, what do you like most about winter? What do you like least? I’d love to hear your opinions as the solstice and the purported end of the world draw nigh. After all, this might be your last chance to share. 😉

bigstock-Christmas-lantern-with-snowfal-38966599