Camp Lake Louise 2016

The weather was hot and perfect for waterfront activities.

Moon over Spirit Mountain (not actually a mountain) at Camp Lake Louise, Boyne Falls, MI

The kids were engaged, generally nice to each other, and most had pretty good attitudes.

The campfires were fun (I was the “fire guy” for the week, building the fire each night).

The evenings were sweet and silent and when the sun was fully down the sky was riddled with stars.

This truly is one of my favorite places on earth.

Here’s the video CLL staff put together for our week. You can spot me in a teal hoodie at the campfire near the 0:38 mark. I’m pointing at something, but I have no idea what.

The video from a couple years back was even better because the tech guy on staff had a drone (which was super creepy and borderline sentient) and there was a lot more use of the GoPro camera:

Either way, I’m sure you can see why I love spending time at Lake Louise.

Michigan Gets Under Your Skin – the Jeff Daniels Edition

Most of my lifetime, Michigan has been bleeding population, largely the result of the collapsing manufacturing sector as factory jobs were outsourced to other countries (this largely as the result of decisions made by millionaires who just weren’t satisfied with all they already had). We’ve been enjoying a slow but steady recovery over the past decade thanks to some savvy marketing and a few sane, practical politicians, adding jobs, revitalizing cities, reimagining derelict factories and warehouses as loft housing and small businesses and incubators. We’ve been attracting a lot of good press, a lot of tourism. Sure, we’ve had some spectacular failures — but the harder the winter the more glorious the spring.

Actor, playwright, and musician Jeff Daniels is just one native Michigander who knows the true value of living here. And PBS News Hour did a nice little segment on what he’s been up to in his small hometown of Chelsea (which they describe as being an hour west of Detroit, because everything in Michigan is described to outsiders in terms of its proximity to the Motor City; it’s also about an hour southeast of Lansing). Hope you enjoy it.

Celebrating Five Years of Gut Check Press

Recently my husband, author Zachary Bartels, and our good friend (and Zach’s indie publishing business partner) Ted Kluck realized that their micro press, Gut Check Press, was turning five years old. This seemed to call for some intensive reminiscing and, in true Zach fashion, a cheeky video┬áretrospective created in PowerPoint.

The past five years of developing books and white papers (and the new podcast!), eating deep dish pizza and Chinese food, and smoking untold numbers of cigars have been some of the most fun and rewarding years of our lives as Ted, Kristin, Zach, and I grow closer as friends and share nights of the kind of laughter that makes your face hurt and your eyes tear up. And sometimes there’s even wheezing.

Here’s to the next five years of publishing milestones. ­čśë

Arctic Blasts and the Reason for Fiction

Thanks so much to so many of you who downloaded free stories yesterday. What took me by surprise was that the overwhelming favorite of the day was “Beneath the Winter Weeds,” the story I wrote last January. I suppose I had thought that people would be more interested reading about summer during this second (or is it third?) cold snap.

Perhaps fiction isn’t truly an escape from reality so much as it is an exploration of reality.

In case you were curious about what Michigan has been like the past few days, here’s the Lake Michigan lakeshore:

Be sure to watch the whole thing so you can see how this photographer found shelter from the storm.

This morning it’s cold (-10 on the thermostat–that’s -23 celsius for my international friends) and sunny and definitely the sort of morning that Valerie Steele might head into the woods to make her discovery…