I take umbrage with whomever coined the phrase “lazy days of summer.” And I might demand a refund. Except, while my summer has been anything but lazy, it has been fun.

After a little hiatus I return to you loveliest of followers with Rust Belt pics and books–and news of a reading in one of my favorite port cities (and rollercoaster capital), Sandusky, Ohio.

Off to OHio

The fam and I headed to Port Clinton, Ohio, walleye capital of the world–don’t fight me on this, MN friends–in June. Sailing for my little guys, boating for the rest of us, swimming, sisters-lunching, friends reuniting, and plenty of hammock-ing and back porch-sitting were the highlights. Of course, no visit to Northern Ohio is complete without a trip to Cleveland and a visit to the West Side Market. And who could forget Rufus, who lived his best Lake Erie Shores & Islands life for a week. Boat aficionados, make sure to check out my dad’s antique Lyman boat above, his fourth child basically. Boat name? Hoptoad, named for Pippi Longstocking’s father’s ship in the favorite book series. (Who woulda thunk I’d become a writer?)

While in the area, I had the honor of serving as the featured reader for the Firelands Writing Center’s monthly reading series in Sandusky. Thank you again to fearless leader Larry Smith and his Bottom Dog Press for sponsoring the event (and putting me on a flyer–that doesn’t happen often). I read some older work and some newer pieces from my WIP, a coming of age novel partly set in Ohio that explores the power of song. And thanks to those who came out (or in) on a beautiful afternoon to share their own work with the group. It felt very much like home. (Flyer photo credit: @melanieraebuonavolonta)

Reading the Rust Belt…

Of course, I’ve fit in some Rust Belt reading. And who said summer reads can’t be deep? Poolside poetry is just my speed, and here are a few I’ve enjoyed immensely: Cleveland native Teri Ellen Cross DavisA More Perfect Union; Columbus, Ohio, poet Paula J. Lambert’s The Ghost of Every Feathered Thing, and Erie, Pennsylvania, poet Sean Thomas Dougherty’s The Dead are Everywhere Telling Us Things. Btw, if we’re not connected on Goodreads, where I recently reviewed another poetry collection, let’s do!

And Beyond

There’s an old, writerly adage that says if you’re talking about it you’re not writing it. So, let’s just keep all our fingers and toes crossed for my WIP as I begin to query literary agents for it this fall.

Unfortunately, there’s no adage I know of that says if you’re talking about your editing you’re not working on it. But what would be the fun in that? You may know I’m the associate editor of Parhelion Literary Magazine, in charge of the features department. How I love my craft essays, book reviews, and author interviews! But you might not know that I got that gig because the magazine’s editor-in-chief saw what I was doing right here on Rust Belt Girl and wanted some for her Richmond, Virginia-based online publication.

In addition to editing features for Parhelion, I’m a reader for fiction. (If you aspire to write literary fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry, there is no better way to become better at it than to read literary journal submissions, imho.) Parhelion’s summer issue (our journal’s 14th–not too shabby) launched this week. If you like fresh and bold fiction, CNF, and poetry I hope you’ll check it out.

Parhelion Literary Magazine

Summer 2022 Issue

Looking Toward Fall

Must we? OK, I suppose the pool days will come to a close. My small guys (who are quickly catching up to me) will head back to school. And I will start packing for the literary highlight of the season, Lit Youngstown’s Fall Literary Festival. If by some strange occurrence you live within driving distance of the festival and I haven’t hit you up, my apologies. This is the best literary conference of the year–if you like a supportive community, generative workshops, eye-opening and ear-bending panel discussions, inspiring readings, and affordability. Oh, and this year’s book fair promises to be the best yet. Also, there will be bowling and films. So, what are you waiting for? The Rust Belt calls.

And that, most patient of readers, is what I’ve been up to. But, as blogging is a two-way street, let’s keep the convo going. What has your summer looked like–or whatever season it is where you hang your hat? Where are you visiting. What are you writing, reading, and discovering? Do tell!

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30 thoughts on “What I did this totally unlazy Rust Belt summer…

    1. It really has been. I have moments where I ache a little for sweaters and soup–and fall is the nicest season in Maryland–but I’m not ready to call it quits on summer yet. Hope you’re well. And congrats on your latest book! Your work ethic is admirable!

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  1. Sounds like a blissful summer to me! Fun travels, friends and family, exposure for your work…

    I started off with a 3-week trip to CA and OR, gave a talk at a conference (about family history blogging), researched, visited family and friends. Worked on my manuscript (about to be submitted to publisher for final edits), another trip to OR for a wedding that didn’t happen due to Covid, so we went mountain biking. Sent in writing sample for another possible book project. Got another speaking gig. Still walking the dog and gardening, too!!

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    1. Wow, you’ve been busy! Too bad about the Covid-foiled wedding, but mountain biking sounds like a fun excursion. And you picked the right season for OR I think! I’m excited about your book projects. I’ll pop over to your blog for more updates. Talk about a bunch of irons in the fire!

      My husband’s garden was good this year–went with raised beds to solve our sogginess problems. His first year for a few ears of corn, which was exciting.

      I find that walking the dog is good writing-thinking time. And a good excuse to take a break from sitting in my desk chair. Thank goodness for dogs, right!?

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    1. I should credit my sister, Maggie, for the prettiest of the pics. She has a good eye! It was a lovely time. Always goes by too fast. Hope you’re well. I’m so delighted to see all the good buzz about your new book, Damyanti. You deserve all the best buzz!

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    2. Thanks, Damyanti! A quick note about your wonderful blog, which I try to keep up with. When I comment it won’t let me and says: “Nonce verification failed.” I’m sure it’s me and my site–and not yours. I’ll work on it. Don’t want to miss out on engaging with you there!

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    1. Thank you for stopping by! You’ve been keeping busy with all your reading and reviews, I see–I’m so impressed with how prolific you are. I’m STILL chuckling at your review of the new Persuasion film adaptation. I do hope Austen liked rabbits, and don’t you wonder if maybe the filmmakers knew it wasn’t going well and said: well, we better put a fuzzy animal in there.

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      1. You’re welcome! Yes, I never run out of books to read and time to review them. That’s an amusing thought about the rabbit. I doubt that people even had pet rabbits that long ago but then the film is not notable for period accuracy anyhow.

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  2. What a fun/informative post to read on this rainy Saturday afternoon, Rebecca! It looks like you’ve had an enjoyable, relaxing AND productive summer. Sandusky is a wonderful place — I haven’t been there in many years, but it’s a stomping ground for many northeastern Indiana folks. Love, love, love those photos, too. The people photos are so good, and the one of Lake Erie makes me want to plunge right into the water! But I have to say … that photo of your dad’s boat … gorgeous — that’s publishable perfection right there, captured by an artistic eye. And that market — okay, next time we go east, we’re stopping there; it looks wonderful! So glad to read you’re getting ready to query agents this fall — good luck to you, I have my fingers crossed, but something tells me you don’t need my crossed fingers, that you’re talent will seal the deal. And btw: I totally agree with you on that misnomer: “lazy days of summer.” I think summer’s the most hectic time there is! And I, for one, am looking forward to autumn and drank a pumpkin spice coffee this morning just to move time along! 😆 Happy rest of the summer — keep writing — and btw you’re doing a great job over at Parhelion! Deb

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    1. I had almost forgotten that Parhelion is what first connected us, Deb! Thank you for sticking around! I admit I’m having trouble juggling that editing work and this blog–not quite sure how to work that out. But I am grateful to have both, since it’s very different work and audiences.

      Yes, summer is a little hectic–and unstructured for me, having my boys home. Though none of us is ready for them to go back to school, on Tuesday!

      I didn’t know that about Sandusky being a destination for NW Indiana folks. It is nice–has a fantastic merry-go-round museum we used to go to a lot when the boys were little. And, of course, the lake and Cedar Point (which I haven’t been to since I was a kid). Can’t recommend the West Side Market enough, if you ever get a little farther east. Just bring a cooler, because you’ll want to take food home!

      I will send your kudos on the boat photo to my sister, Maggie. She does have a good eye, doesn’t she? That was a very still morning, few boats out, a little fog still to be burned off.

      And thanks for the querying good wishes! I hear horror stories of how much worse it’s gotten out there with the publishing world what it is. But I think I have a manuscript worth fighting for. So, we’ll see!

      Oh yes, bring on the pumpkin spice–ha, that made me laugh, Deb. Fall is definitely the best season here in Maryland, so I’m looking forward to it–and reading by the fireplace with a warm cup of something. Not long now!

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      1. Rebecca, I’ll just say this about the current publishing world: it seems the almighty dollar drives the deal. “Are you a celebrity (even one most folks barely know) with a really messed up life? Hey, do we want to throw $$$ your way to write a book [and don’t worry if you can’t write, we have ghost writers for that].” Sorry, couldn’t help myself; but I read all about soon-to-be-published books and I just sometimes cringe and bite my teeth. But, the good news: Serious readers, like myself and many others, still want to read a well-written book by a ‘real’ writer and will pay to do so. So the upshot: Hang in there, because you’re a terrific writer with a wonderful story to tell, and just query the heck out of it (if you have to), believing in it, and I guarantee you—I’d be willing to bet you—I’ll be reading it soon enough … with a cup of Starbucks pumpkin spice coffee at my side! 😉 ☕️

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      2. I totally understand the cringe! One lovely thing about the book blogging world is it does seem to foster a lot of community around “real” writers and books. As you say, serious writers see through all the publishing world hype. I love your vision of reading my book wish some seasonal coffee. I need to manifest that! Thank you for being the best cheerleader, Deb! I look forward to reading what comes next from you. Loved your story up at Fictive Dream yesterday!

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      3. Thanks, Rebecca 😉 I’ve already bought the coffee (Starbucks Pumpkin & Fall Blend) and I’m getting the machine fired up! 😀 Best of luck querying. Sending all the positive vibes I have your way!

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  3. Looks like you had an awesome summer, Rebecca! One of these summers maybe I’ll make it out to your literary festival. I too, am querying agents. Maybe we should talk and share some info. Wishing you the best of luck on your search for an agent!

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  4. Let’s cross our fingers and toes that we’ll meet at Lit Youngstown’s Fall Literary Festival with our new books in tow one of these years! That would be wonderful, wouldn’t it? I’m working up my list of agents now. I’ll be adding a few that I queried for my last book. Would love to chat about it, though I’m not sure how much help I’d be. I did take an introductory class over Zoom on querying with Jane Friedman (do you get her newsletter–she’s great!) just to be sure I wasn’t missing any helpful resources. Feel free to email anytime (my contact form here on the blog goes to my email) and we can plan a time to chat if you want. I can share what I learned from that class, anyway. Anything to make the querying process a little more pleasurable, right?!

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  5. YAY!! Welcome back to blogging. As if you needed more writing assignments. :-). Best of luck with your WIP.

    I’m jealous of the walleye meals…I love walleye. It was delightful to read the back stories of your Instagram photos that I saw as you and your family adventures occurred. It’s so much fun to read of your accomplishments as well as chillaxing moments. I LOVE the photos of you on your flyer and of your dad’s boat. All the photos you selected are wonderful to highlight the summer of fun. Your smiles tell us how much fun you’ve had!

    My summer has been more of a healing one – I’ve been missing my little Copper. I have found ways to grab the camera for outside discoveries of yard scoundrels and the surviving plants. I’ve read quite a few books, taking lots of walks, watered my struggling plants, and chillaxed in our tea house. I thought of you this week when I heard Mr. describe the school shopping frenzy at Walmart. While I miss school prepping days, I also am thankful to not have that on my to-do list this August. I hope the boys are excited and ready for the school year!

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    1. Thanks, Shelley. It is a challenge to juggle my writing projects, but followers like you are so worth it!

      Walleye and Lake Erie Perch (which is yellow perch, I believe) are must-haves when visiting Ohio’s Northcoast, for sure! It really was a nice summer, if a big harried. My work-work as a development writer for universities is especially busy in summer–everyone wants to get their fundraising appeals in the mail at the start of school.

      Tomorrow is the start for my guys–can’t believe it’s here already. Yes, we had our school supply frenzy at ye ol’ Target. Who knows if I got all the right stuff or enough of it? Not my favorite errand at all!

      Cooper was such a constant companion for you. I’m sure that’s hard, and the healing takes a while, doesn’t it? I always love your beautiful photos of the critters who visit your lawn and your plants. I am jealous of that tea house–a perfect place for a summer respite. You are the one who deserves the chillaxing, after all your and your Mr.’s work on your rental–you two should have a show on HGTV!

      Would love to know your favorite book of the season, if you had one. Most interesting novel I read was probably The Old Woman with the Knife, a translation from Korean, about a 65-year old assassin. It was really great.

      Sending you healing vibes and happiest wishes for a good rest of your summer and an even better fall!

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      1. Aw, I’m touched by your comments, thank you!

        Yay for back to school time. I hope the boys have a great year and that you find joy in the quiet writing moments you’ll have while they’re at school.

        Oh, I do love the tea house – it’s a nice place to escape and just listen to the world while I read a book or just day dream. Copper loved to sit out there with me. That sounds like a book I should add to my TBR list on GoodReads. For fun I read Dan Antion’s Knuckleheads to help me get over the blues of missing my little companion. I also read Kristi Noem’s Not My First Rodeo and loved the stories she shared of losing her father in her 20s and how that affected how she raised her kids. I recently read Anyway You Can by Annette Bosworth, MD – I wish everyone battling cancer could have a copy of it to read.

        Thank you again for the healing vibes and happy wishes – ditto to you and yours! I treasure our blogging friendship!!

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  6. Love hearing about your summer, friend! And soooo excited that I can say I WILL be seeing you at Lit Youngstown this year! As I scrolled your lovely pics, I thought how this will be wonderful to look back on someday. It’s why I continue to be personal on my blog as well. Gorgeous. A summer well-lived.

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    1. I feel like my job on the planning committee is DONE, winning your attendance at the festival! I can’t wait to chat in real person, not Zoom person–feels so strange that we haven’t yet.

      Yeah, most of the time I think of this blog as a zine, but I know there are some followers, like a cousin of mine, who would also love to see the personal. And even if I’m not related to most of the bloggers I follow, I love sharing the highlights of someone’s season.

      I always fit in some books, of course. Reading a great literary mystery right now: Deer Season by Erin Flanagan. She lives in IN but is coming to the festival, so I’m excited to meet her!

      Hope your summer’s been well-lived (love that), too, Kelly! Hope we’ll hear all about it at your blog!

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    1. I’ll look forward to hearing about your checked box! High humidity is draining, isn’t it? We always thought it was humid in Ohio; I had no idea until I moved to Maryland. The humidity just makes me melt into a puddle. Here’s looking forward to less swampy days. Dare I say even the crunching sound of fallen leaves underfoot? (Just not the squeak of snow–not at all ready for that.) Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. Honestly, sounds like the perfect summer! How exciting that you got to read your WIP in front of an audience, too. Love the photos and happy to hear that all is grooving along. Hugs from Thailand.

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    1. I’ve gotten much more comfortable reading in front of others after learning to sing in front of others. However, it’s always daunting to read something pretty new. Will I see looks of confusion on their faces? Will they laugh in the right spots? Will they get up and walk out? But if we’re writing not just for ourselves, sometimes it’s gonna happen. And it was fun! I hope your season is going well, and I have to tell you I love seeing photos from your days!

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