The Writing Life, Snowbird Style

The Snowbird Life means June in Michigan and continued work on my next book in The Hunt For Reacher Series, Get Jack Back. I began the book here last year when I finished Don’t Know Jack. Over the next few weeks, it’s final chapters will reveal themselves to me.

During the summer writing season, my schedule settles into a perfect routine of peace and quiet in my office, while all mayhem remains on the page.

Coffee and early journaling is accompanied by a symphony of nature and the gentle lap of lake water against the shore. Later, breeze rustles birch and maple leaves with gentle wind chimes. Have a listen and imagine you can inhale the crispness… 


Here’s the view from my laptop morning, afternoon, and evening. This is how we work “in the cloud” around here.

During breaks from the keyboard, I might glance up to see nesting loons in June; later in the season, they’ll be feeding in my front “yard” with their chicks. Still later, they’ll teach the young ones to fish and to fly by strafing runs across the lake. Loons are snowbirds, too. The chicks must fly south for the winter, just like me.

Mid-afternoon, I take a long walk through the neighborhood. Neighbors are white tail deer, raccoons, red and black squirrels, and a few chipmunks who are nothing close to as cute but just as destructive as Simon, Theodore, and Alvin. An Oriole nest in our silver maple out back has been the starter home to several families. Hummingbirds join us, too.

The sun sets ever later each day and near midnight on the summer solstice. My evening keyboard sessions are accompanied by a bottle of Labatt’s Blue, maybe a pastie or a plate of lake perch for dinner, perhaps a campfire with my two-legged neighbors, Kevin and Laurie Lavrack, the fabulous photographers who brought you these photos and more I’ve shared from time to time.



This is my writing life, snowbird style. I wasn’t the first writer to discover creativity in northern solitude. As I’ve mentioned before, Hemingway summered here. Doug Stanton lives in my little village and Jim Harrison is close by. Well known authors such as P.J. Parrish, Steve Hamilton, and more pass through every week in the summer.

A stone’s throw away is Interlochen Arts Academy, summer home of the Detroit Symphony and the alma mater of Grammy winners Jewell, Norah Jones, Bob James and more who entertain us each summer evening. The Traverse City Film Festival enthralls us, too.

No, I didn’t discover Michigan’s northern words. I love it here, though, and every day I feel blessed to work here. Isn’t it marvelous?

Where do you feel your most creative? What are your most inspiring surroundings? What are your most productive habits? What would you add to your best creative setting if you could?



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18 Responses to The Writing Life, Snowbird Style

  1. K.B. Owen June 7, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

    This looks ideal for a writer’s retreat, Diane! You are, indeed, fortunate. It would be fabulous for every writer to experience this.

    I don’t have quite the solitude or sweeping vistas you have, but I am fortunate to have visual beauty, too. My favorite workspace is in our dining room, by the window that looks over our back deck. It’s replete with luxuriant container plantings, bird feeders (including a hummer feeder, which I’ll be posting about tomorrow), and suburban wildlife. When I get up to stretch, I like to sit outside for a few minutes, or check the plantings to see how they are doing, before going back to work. Bliss. 😀

    • Diane Capri June 7, 2012 at 10:54 pm #

      Sounds lovely, Kathy. For me, quiet is a must. The sounds of nature soothe, but man-made noise is too distracting from the fictive dream, I guess. Sounds silly, given that I write thriller, suspense and mystery, but there it is. 🙂 Beauty is important, too. I’m glad you find beauty and bliss for your writing in your own creative environment. It’s a wonderful life, isn’t it?

  2. Louise Behiel June 7, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

    What a lovely part of the world. I write in the back of the house, in the living room, on a laptop sitting in a recliner. I’m bad, I know but from my front window, the towering Rocky Mountains set there, patiently calling for me. “We’re only an hour…come for coffee and peace…” and I’m so tempted. Of course with a full time job there’s little time to drive to Banff ( for coffee…which is too bad.

  3. Diane Capri June 7, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    Really too bad, Louise! Can’t you take your laptop to Banff? I’ve only been there once, but I loved everything about the place. Go! And send pictures!

  4. Karen McFarland June 8, 2012 at 1:43 am #

    Oh Louise, I love Banff! What’s not to love about the Canadian Rockies, eh?

    Although you Diane have an abundance of serenity! Who would not love to write under those conditions? I on the other hand am huddled away in the Master Bedroom, the only spot where there is room in the condo for my desk. Ack, the enconomy and my DH’s accident. But I will say that it is very peaceful where we live, so I have no complaints. I am starting FastDraft this week and looking forward to writing my second novel. I don’t know if I can write 20 pages a day. Sounds a bit insane, but it will at least get me motivated. Enjoy your wonderful summer Diane! 🙂

    • Diane Capri June 8, 2012 at 8:10 am #

      Louise’s view of the rockies sounds heavenly, but peace and a place of one’s own are the two most important requirements, right, Karen? Good luck with the FastDraft challenge! Sounds awesome — and so much to show for it when you’re done!

  5. Jennette Marie Powell June 8, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    Ah, Diane, your workplace sounds heavenly! I do my best work in my home study. Unfortunately, my husband insisted on putting a TV in there. It’s nice when he watches TV downstairs, but all too often, headphones are a must for me to get anything done!

    • Diane Capri June 8, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

      Thanks, Jennette. I forget how peaceful it is until I finally arrive. Too bad Old Man Winter chases me out every October! LOL! I’m familiar with the headphone maneuver. I use that one in FL, myself…..

  6. Chuck Rininger June 8, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    Im also from Michigan, a little town about 25 miles the Chicago side of Kalamazoo.
    I still have family in MI
    Now Im Retired in San Diego. Can you tell me what part of Michigan you Snow Bird from.

    Chuck Rininger

    • Diane Capri June 8, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

      Hi, Chuck. Thanks for stopping by. I’m in the north Michigan woods. We’re headed down to K-College graduation on Sunday for one of our nieces. I’m told Elvis isn’t hanging out there any more, though. San Diego is lovely, though. The Del Coronado Hotel is quite an amazing site, as is the bridge over to the island. Just gorgeous. Do you love it there?

  7. Melinda VanLone June 8, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

    I want to cry, it’s so beautiful! And I’m so jealous! My dream is to some day live near water of some sort. As you can imagine, Dallas just doesn’t have a lot of that. Sigh. I guess I’ll play my sound machine ocean noise and dream.

    • Diane Capri June 8, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

      Dallas is very nice, Melinda. Been there several times. You’re right about the “no water zone,” though, and I know how you feel. I’m a big water person, myself. I find it very soothing. Maybe it’s primordial???

  8. Lynette M. Burrows (@LynetteMBurrows) June 8, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    What a lovely, lovely place to live and work. I’ve been to northern Michigan several times as a child (I was born in Detroit). I remember watching ships move through the Straits of Mackinaw, long walks, and playing on the beach. I’d love to visit the area again sometime.

    My office is a spare bedroom where I’m surrounded by books and artwork and momentos. There’s soft music to evoke a mood that inspires and my dogs are at my feet. I’ve got a view of the backyard. And whenever inspiration lags in my office, I pick up my laptop and go to the local coffee shop, library or park.

    • Diane Capri June 9, 2012 at 8:05 am #

      Born in Detroit? My husband was, too. Love these “small world” stories, Lynette! Do come to visit us. Northern Michigan is as beautiful as ever. Your writing space sounds perfect. I’m not a great one for “have laptop, will move to coffee shop” because once I get there, I’m apt to become distracted. But I know many writers who enjoy writing outside their usual workspaces and I’m a fan of that technique. “Whatever works” is my motto!

  9. Debra Kristi June 8, 2012 at 11:30 pm #

    I really does sound heavenly. I am so jealous. Your video and pictures make me want to run there right now. Move over! JK.

    • Diane Capri June 9, 2012 at 8:06 am #

      Well come on over, then, Debra! We’ll leave the light on for you (assuming you arrive after midnight — before that, you won’t need the light to find us!). “Move over, JK”??? Wouldn’t that be something!!

  10. Kristy K. James June 10, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    Michigan does have beautiful scenery, doesn’t it, Diane? My two favorite places are Lake Michigan (by Muskegon) and anywhere along the waterfront by the bridge in Mackinaw City. I’d say anywhere in the U.P., too, but I hate driving across that bridge. Well…I will NEVER drive across it, so I should have said I just don’t like going on it at all. 🙂

    Since I’m mostly at home in mid-Michigan, I just like to sit with my curtains open…so I can watch the birds in the evergreen and bird feeder outside my window. What would I add to this to help me be more creative? A change in location to a beach on Lake Michigan! A house with a large screened in porch, overlooking that beach…with a hammock to kick back and relax in when I’m mulling over ideas. 🙂

    • Diane Capri June 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

      Yes, Kristy, Michigan is one of the prettiest states in the country. I enjoy Michigan’s views once you get north of the “flat lands” a bit, but all of the farmers I know lust after those flat fields! We went to my niece’s graduation at Kalamazoo College yesterday, which must be one of the loveliest settings for a graduation I’ve ever seen — but then, I’ve never been to Oxford and lots of other places in the world. Getting out and enjoying nature is always an inspiration for me, too!

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