Why We Love Vacation Novels

13 May 2015

From Flavorwire:

“Something tells me we’re not going to like this place,” declares Rosemary Hoyt’s mother in the first spoken words of Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night. “I want to go home anyway,” Rosemary replies. It’s a moment of exquisite irony, considering Fitzgerald has just spent 500 words describing the perfect isolation of the Hoyts’ French Riviera environs, where “the pink and cream of old fortifications, the purple Alp that bounded Italy, were cast across the water and lay quavering in the ripples and rings sent up by sea plants through the clear shallows.” It’s a traveler’s utopia, with all the romance of an undiscovered paradise and none of the touristic trappings — yet Rosemary, a follower in all things, doesn’t immediately see it that way. But with her unexpected introduction to Dick and Nicole Diver, models of cool elegance and social surety, Rosemary feels the sense of possibility she longed for in her travels open up. With one chance encounter, the promise of the trips unfurls itself. Dick’s voice “promised that he would take care of her, and that little later he would open up whole new worlds for her, unroll an endless succession of magnificent possibilities.”

Possibility is, of course, the raison d’etre of the vacation novel: the narrative is a respite from the tiresome repetition and banality of daily life. It’s a crisp Mediterranean breeze floating through our hunched-over-turkey-sandwich-at-our-desk lunch break, a rustle of forest leaves instead of the shuffle of files. And that could be enough: the power to transport and entertain is a worthy goal for the novel to pursue.

. . . .

E.M. Forster’s A Room With a View immediately establishes what its characters are seeking on their Italian holiday. While Charlotte Bartlett is immediately concerned with the disregarded promise of “south rooms with a view close together,” Lucy Honeychurch cannot move past the very Englishness of their hotel. “And a Cockney, besides!” she exclaims, “It might be London.” The two women talk past one another, both dissatisfied with the Italian hotel, but for very different reasons. Miss Bartlett’s frustration is practical: the two ladies were not given the rooms they were promised, and the quality of their stay will certainly be suppressed by this fact. But Lucy’s irritation stems from a feeling that she has not truly slipped away from the stifled, close collar of English society. Even on this holiday, she fears, her posture must be ramrod and her moral compass must point her north.

Link to the rest at Flavorwire

Since Room With a View is set in Florence, one of PG’s favorite cities, he decided a couple of photos were in order. (Click for Larger Versions)

Duomo View

This photo was taken from Piazzale Michelangelo and features Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, more commonly known as the Duomo (Italian for dome).


Heracles beating the Centaur Nessus, sculpted in 1599 by Giambologna (who is better known for The Rape of the Sabine Women) and located in the Loggia dei Lanzi on the Piazza della Signoria. The statue undoubtedly caused Lucy to have thoughts.

St. Dunstan’s Basilica

22 April 2015

PG drifted into a photo mood for a few moments.

Following is St. Dunstan’s Basilica in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. PG fell in love with what the light was doing up high. (Click for a larger version)


St. Dunstan's Basilica - Charlottetown


10 February 2015

Mrs. PG and PG recently spent a long weekend in Southern Utah. While there, they visited Zion National Park.

PG hadn’t seen Zion in thousands of years (an eyeblink in geological time) and had forgotten how astounding and otherworldly it can appear. Photos don’t really capture the enormous scale of the mountains and cliffs nor do they adequately represent the lovely and subtle variations in color and texture that one encounters in this amazing place.

You can click on the horizontal photos to see larger versions.










Two Photos

14 January 2015

Casa PG is experiencing winter. Some time ago, PG spent most of winter in Florida.

A couple of contrasting photos seem in order. One was taken yesterday at Casa PG. The other wasn’t.

Up the hill


Sunset with Blue Variation-Unsharp

Green Gables

21 October 2014

The PG’s also visited Prince Edward Island during their recent trip.

PEI is the smallest province in Canada both by population and land area. The provincial population is about 140,000 and the island is mostly rural, relying upon farming, fishing and tourism for much of its economy. 25% of all potatoes grown in Canada originate here. The largest city, Charlottetown, has a population of about 33,000, while the second-largest city has a population of about 16,000. The size of municipalities drops off rapidly from there.

Prince Edward Island is the childhood home of one of Canada’s best-known authors, Lucy Maud Montgomery, who wrote Anne of Green Gables, set on a farm on PEI.

Ms. Montgomery was born on PEI. After her mother died during her infancy, Montgomery was sent to live with her grandparents’ on the island. While she was growing up, she frequently visited her cousins at nearby Green Gables Farm.

After she married, Montgomery moved with her husband to Ontario, but frequently returned to spend time on Prince Edward Island throughout her adulthood. She and her husband are buried a short distance from Green Gables.

Green Gables is a protected historical site and locations from the Anne books such as Haunted Woods, Balsam Hollow and Lovers Lane are well-preserved. (click on each photo for a larger version)

House 4a-SM
Green Gables
Bedroom in Green Gables
Green Gables

This last photo is taken at the beginning of the Haunted Wood trail looking back at the house.

Peggy’s Cove

15 October 2014

Peggy’s Cove is a tiny fishing village on the West coast of Nova Scotia. It was one of the destinations for PG and Mrs. PG during their recent travels.

Here are some photos (click to see a larger size):

Peggy's Cove

Peggy's Cove

Peggy's Cove

Peggy's Cove



27 September 2014

PG and Mrs. PG went for a drive in the mountains yesterday morning. You can click on the photos to see larger versions.

Mountain 2 - SM


Aspen - Lighter - Small


Mountain 4 - SM


27 July 2014

This was taken a short distance from Casa PG. We’ve had some high smoke floating in from forest fires in Washington and Oregon that provides some interesting texture to the sky and can really light up a sunset. Click for a larger version.


Sunset 2

Long Weekend

13 May 2014

PG and Mrs. PG decided to take a long weekend in Jackson, Wyoming, following the release of Mrs. PG’s latest book (which is selling well, thank you).

Jackson is located in a region known as Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park is nearby.

Here are a few of PG’s photos. You can click for larger versions.

Mountain Clouds 2-Clarity

Mountains - Cabin- Clarity

Mountain River Cabin

Panorama 1 - Clarity - Cropped


The big guy in the last photo was walking right alongside the road. All PG had to do was to lower the car window and take a picture.

Rights Concerns: Simon451 Novel-Writing Contest for Students

7 March 2014

From Writer Beware:

Recently, Big 5 publisher Simon & Schuster announced the launch of two adult trade speculative fiction imprints: Saga Press, which will do both print and digital, and Simon451, which will also do print and digital, but will concentrate on digital-firsts and ebook originals. Simon451 currently is accepting submissions from unagented authors.

Simon451 is also running a novel-writing contest for college students. Students submit a synopsis ad the first 50 pages of a novel. A panel of judges will select ten finalists, who will be asked to submit their entire manuscripts. The winner receives a publishing contract with Simon451, a $3,000 advance, and a trip to NY Comicon.

In the past weeks, I’ve heard from a number of writers who are wondering about an apparent rights-grab in the contest guidelines .

. . . .

First, on page 2 of the guidelines, where it refers to the initial 50-page submission, a.k.a. the Initial Entry:

Submission of an Initial Entry grants Sponsor and their agents the unconditional, irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide right to excerpt in part or whole, use, adapt, edit and/or modify such Entry in any way, in any and all media, without limitation, and without consideration to the entrant, whether or not such Entry is selected as a winning Entry.

. . . .

What if you become a finalist, though, and are asked to submit your entire manuscript? Per pages 3 and 4 of the guidelines, you are subject to the exact same grant of rights, expressed in identical language. The only difference is the use of the term “Entry,” rather than “Initial Entry,” referring to the full manuscript:

Submission of an Entry grants Sponsor and its agents the unconditional, irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide right to excerpt in part or whole, use, adapt, edit and/or modify such Entry in any way, in any and all media, without limitation, and without consideration to the entrant, whether or not such Entry is selected as a winning Entry.

Link to the rest at Writer Beware and thanks to Ekta for the tip.

PG says it looks like another case of runaway lawyers.

He doesn’t read contest rules for fun, but almost every time he does, he finds overbroad language and rights-grabs.

On one occasion, PG was thinking about entering one of his photographs into a contest for calendar photos featuring landscape shots. His primary reasons for doing so were that proceeds from the sale of calenders went to a children’s hospital and he thought his photo was better than previous winners.

Then he read the contest terms and conditions and discovered, instead of granting rights to use his photo on the calendar, he was surrendering all rights to his photo, which could be used for any purpose, including being licensed to third parties without compensation to the photographer.

He decided to send some cash to the children’s hospital instead.

For those in the frozen regions of the US and Canada, here is a photo PG took on the Gulf Coast of Florida several years ago:

Sunset and Pier-Blue Variation-Red Enhanced-Unsharp Mask

and another (you can click to see somewhat larger versions)

Naples Sunset 2 cropped

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