I’m Back!

Howdy! Yes, I’m back at last. I’m sorry this blog was dark for a week and that I’ve missed reading many of my favorite blogs. Wondering where I’ve been? Well, remember this photo from my previous post?

002For the past week, I traded that setting for the warmth of two cities in Texas: Austin and Houston. Yee ha!

In Austin, I met up with four VCFA classmates for a writing retreat at the Writing Barn, a 7.5 acre retreat and book launch center in Austin (operated by author Bethany Hegedus; click on the Writing Barn above to find out more about this place).

Ever feel your soul expand? That’s how I felt the whole time I was away. Back home, life felt too narrow and grumbling too familiar. I needed to be in a place filled with interesting trees and green grass if only for a short while. Here are some photos of the grounds where tame deer roam freely, and beauty can be found in abundance.

005Note the lack of snow in this photo.


My friends and I stayed here—at the Book House (below). Very appropriate, since we were all writing books. 🙂



This is the Writing Barn—the place where conferences, book launches, and book magic happen.

Whenever we weren’t discussing the craft of writing, a pleasant walk was the order of the day. My hat is off to Bethany for the ambience. Everywhere you look there is something beautiful or inspiring to see—a good reminder of the calming power of nature. Ah! I could feel my stress melt away.

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After staying at the Writing Barn a few days, I headed to Houston. Since my parents, brother, and sister-in-law live there, Houston is a second home.


Houston, but not one of my photos

Since I travel to Houston quite a lot, I don’t usually do touristy picture taking. I hung out with my family, soaking in the 72 degree weather (Fahrenheit; 22 degrees Celsius, if you prefer) and eating delicious Thai food at the Thai Cottage in Sugar Land. If you happen to go there, I recommend the shrimp mermaid appetizer and the chili paste with shrimp. My stomach was grateful for the experience.


Shrimp mermaid (stuffed with crab meat)

Now I’m back home in the cold, unpacking and getting back into my normal routine. At least I have wonderful memories.

For another post on a visit to the Writing Barn, check out Laura Sibson’s blog.

Photos by L. Marie, except for the shrimp mermaid appetizer, which came from the Thai Cottage website, and the Houston photo, which came from houstontransit.blogs.rice.edu.

32 thoughts on “I’m Back!

  1. I did check yesterday that I had not accidentally ‘unfollowed’ you-I do that a lot when scrolling with my large sausage fingers!
    Good to see those photographs. I have never been to America, but have heard of all the states. How would you describe the states that you have been to? What kind of feel did you have for them? Sorry, just curious.

    • You know, Andy, I thought about you when I wrote that post (which is why I mentioned Celsius). While Alaska is the largest state, Texas is second largest. Houston is the fourth largest city in the country. Texas is at the south, just above Mexico and west of Louisiana. I traveled about 925 miles to get to Houston. Texas is pretty huge, so there is a difference in the weather depending on where you go. Further north in Texas, you’ll find colder temperatures and ice. But nothing like what we get in the Midwest.

      If you are interested in rodeos, Houston is the place to go! Austin is pretty eclectic. It has a great music scene. Very artsy.

      My parents have traveled to the 48 states of the continental US. I haven’t been to that many. There are several western states that I’ve only flown over. Each part of the country has its own cultural flavor.

      • And did your parents have a favourite state? Have you?
        One other thing I meant to ask you. About how you go about doing your writing? See my old PC is becoming infuriatingly slow, and (though I can’t afford it yet) I was looking at alternatives. What would be best, a new PC or a word processor. But google led me into all sorts of conflicting opinions, and things like Scrivener kept coming up. How do you write? You know, the mechanics etc.

      • My parents really loved Maine. Yet when they retired, they moved to Texas.

        I have a laptop (PC) and I have Scrivener and Microsoft Word. I’ve noticed many people using iPads with attachable keyboards. Some prefer the MacBook Air laptop. It all depends on what you’re comfortable with. I often write scenes by hand, and then later type the scenes into the computer.

        I started off totally writing by hand. I thought the computer would be faster. But I find that I write more when I write by hand.

        What do you think you’ll want to get?

      • I don’t know really, as I’m not too au fait with all of this and just wondered what people used. Probably can’t afford to get anything just yet. How do you find Scrivener? Is it easy to use? Do you think the majority of writers (that you know) use it?

    • One of my classmates is from New Jersey. Believe me, she enjoyed being away from the weather.
      When I read your post on what to do for an author, I thought about that trip. It was what I needed to do to feed myself creatively. I really needed to get out of Dodge. Now my author wants some good graphic novels to read. 🙂

  2. I planned on emailing you this morning to make sure you were okay, L. I’m happy to see you were off having fun…good for you! It looks it was a great trip and a good break from the cold. I could go for some 70 degree weather myself. 🙂

    • Oh, Jill, it was wonderful. Now I’m trying to get back in the swing of things and also avoid grumbling about the cold. I had my days in the sun. I’m actually glad to be back.

  3. Welcome back, L! What a nice respite you had. Thank you for sharing through your wonderful photos (even the ones you didn’t take ;)). I love the idea of a retreat. Even when I take a staycation, I’m too distracted by my household to focus on my writing. A retreat sounds like a great idea.

    • I’ve done the staycations too, Marie. And I also get distracted by my dirty carpets. So, I needed to get out of state and not worry about housework.

  4. Glad to see you could escape the great white snow blanket, Linda! And you even got some delicious Thai food in the bargain. Hopefully Spring will show its face around Chicago soon.

    • It was lovely, Phillip. I ate Thai and Vietnamese food. So yummy. So now I’m back to the eight-degree temperature. Such a change from 70 degrees.

  5. What a wonderful recap of your warm weather get-a-way. I love the look of the trails around that Book House. Hope you are feeling recharged and rejuvenated after your trip to Texas. Yee Haw!

    • They were lovely, Nancy. I love the fact that deer can just roam the grounds without fear. And I loved being surrounded by beautiful trees. So refreshing! I truly need a house where a tree grows through it.

  6. Welcome home!!! You know, you’re the third person I know who’s visited Texas in the last four weeks? My neighbor, a WIPpet buddy, and now you. 🙂 Must be a popular destination for chilly folks in winter, my neighbor came home looking like she got the world’s most fabulous highlight job on her hair. (Hair has a tendency to wash out colorwise and get very dull up here.) I’m glad you got a chance to decompress and warm up.

    • I can see why people visit Texas at this time of year. The temperature climbed to 79 while I was there! Woo hoo!!! T-shirt and capri weather! But the summers can be brutal in Houston.

      Austin was really, really fun. A very eclectic place. And Houston has so many great hair salons!

  7. That sounds like an awesome trip! I might be a bit jealous that you had some heat, but you deserve it, for sure. Still snow here. *grumbles* I’d like to visit Houston for a day.

    (Also wanted to tell you: the ice cream was delicious. Can’t thank you enough.)

  8. Welcome back–and what a great sounding trip! I’m so glad you had the opportunity to do the retreat. The place looks amazing and very conducive to relaxing and writing! I love Thai food, but I’ve never had shrimp mermaid.

  9. I’m envious! but glad you had a great time in Austin and Houston. I’ve been dark too, but it’s not because I’ve escaped the cold and constant snowstorms in the Northeast. Rather, I’ve been moving and finally arrived in my new home. In the meantime, flu turned into bronchitis.

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