Peace and Quiet, or Not
This month's theme is on where we live, the good and bad points, and the writing community. We live in the middle of a forest in northeast Texas. That is, when we don't live in Mexico. But first, Texas.
Our home is about twelve miles from a small town of 3,400. We are surrounded by pine, oak and hickory trees and we overlook a small lake on our property. All is peaceful and quiet. Except, four years ago, the Keystone Pipeline declared they had the right to run a pipeline across our property. Thus began our fight over eminent domain. A year later, they clear cut a path one hundred fifty feet wide and a third of a mile long across our property. Hundred foot-tall pines were toppled. Fifty year old oak trees went down along with large hickories. For months we could hear the heavy machinery, even if we could not see it without a walk through our woods.
That has passed, but it provided the genesis for Over My Dead Body. In this mystery, Syd Cranzler also objected to his property being taken by eminent domain. He also lost.
The small town we live near is Winnsboro. It does have a small critique group and a number of active writers. Not far away, though, is a larger and much more active writers' group, The Northeast Texas Writers' Organization, or NETWO. It holds critique sessions, gives workshops and a great writers' conference each year, and sponsors both fiction and non-fiction writing contests.
We love our home in the woods. We have a lovely place we share with many deer and other wild animals, some more favored than others. It is very private. As our driveway is nearly a mile long, if we hear a car, we know they are coming to visit us.
At the same time, we are remote. And there are times when it would be nice to be "in the middle of things."
That's where Mexico comes in. We spend four to six months each year in Puerto Vallarta. Our place there is right in the middle of town, and there are always people, music, and activity close by. Our condo is in a building with people who have lived and traveled all over the world. Conversation at a party here might center around any number of different countries. A five minute walk can put us at a dozen world-class restaurants. No Dairy Queen here, though. Rather than a small lake, our condo is ocean front.
There is a writing club here, the Puerto Vallarta Writers' Group. They meet weekly and have had an annual writer's conference for several years. While many of the writers are from the
U.S., there are also some from many other countries.
My next novel, due in the spring of 2016 and titled The Silver Medallion, is set half in Texas and half in Mexico. You can guess where much of the research was done.
We love the activity, the different views people from other countries have, and the weather. But, on the minus side, there is always stuff going on and finding writing time is more difficult.
Perhaps it is the great differences that make us love both places. Contrast. Ah, and contrast is an important thing to remember for any writer.
James R. Callan