My Low Tech/No Tech Vacation

sand turtleAnnie on the Beach RI








Last week my husband and I went on a vacation together, with the dog, and stayed in a small, essentially two room cottage near the ocean. It was built in the 1920’s and has no cable, no internet and poor cell phone reception. When I told one of my friends what we were doing, her reaction was, “You’re going to be at each other’s throats.”

That gave me pause. I became anxious. We were less than a mile from a beautiful private beach and the house came with a beach pass, so we’d be outside most of the time, but…What if it rained? What would we do? We got lucky, only two rainy days. On one of them, we drove around and looked at houses for sale because we love the area. We saw Taylor Swift’s house. Not for sale; way too big for us anyway. On the other rainy day, we did a little sightseeing: The Nautilus Submarine Museum in Groton, Connecticut. I love museums. My husband was interested in experiencing the close quarters of the submarine. Something for both of us. Great day. The other days, we spent some serious time on the beach; walking, reading, swimming. We talked to each other. We brought the cribbage board and Scrabble but never even got around to it. We both read a lot of books and I worked on the third novel in my series. My daughter Annie visited and built a sand turtle on the beach. (See photos.)

Another thing our love-nest didn’t have: an oven. No cooking. Yay! We tried several great restaurants and sampled everything from $32.00 swordfish, eaten at a table with a view of the ocean, to chowder from a takeout window, eaten at a picnic table overlooking a busy street. Heavenly. Paradise.

We found a dog park. Nigel, our redbone coonhound mix, had never been to one. He loved it. Lots of tail wagging and butt sniffing, two of his favorite pastimes. The dog owners sit around and chat about their pets, children and jobs. The poop bags are free.

So we survived our “off the grid” vacation. I’ve been back for over twenty four hours and haven’t turned the TV on yet. Can’t say the same for my husband.

Consensus: We really enjoyed ourselves and we’d do it again. Tomorrow would work for me.


Why I Love My Day Job

My Fifth Period Class

My Fifth Period Class

larissa d

June 13, 2014 – 9:09 PM (10 hours ago)

to me

Mrs. Larrabee, I would like to inform you that my friend and I are so inspired by your work Enter If You Dare that we decided: why don’t we write a story ourselves? So we’re getting to work! It’s going to be a bit like the format of Nothing But the Truth by Avi, (which our class is reading now) because we are going to change the P.O.V. (Point of View) between the two main characters who are a girl named Ariel and a boy named Edward. Here is basically a summary of our story (We haven’t come up with a title yet.):

“Ariel is one out of three children and having divorced parents isn’t the easiest, especially when you’re the youngest and still living with your parents; or shall I say parent? Ariel moves across the country from a small town in Massachusetts to California with her Dad while her mom and siblings stay in Massachusetts. Ariel meets a boy named Edward who doesn’t have it so easy either. He lives with an alcoholic mother and his father left him when he was just a baby. Edward is considered the “Emo” of the school because he feels hurt by the words of many of the students. Ariel and Edward’s friendship grows closer, as do their feelings for one another, but they make a promise. As much as they love each other they can’t show it because they don’t want their friendship to end. But Ariel smokes and ends up dying and Edward is in great grief and so are Ariel’s parents and siblings. When Ariel was alive he showed his love for her and it grew stronger everyday as she grew weaker 😦 but he couldn’t do anything to tell her but hoped one day they would be together. But now that she’s gone he has no chance, and still loves Ariel and only her. So Edward comes up with an idea to write her letters and read to her at her grave site and he always brings her some sort of gift and tells her he misses her and that he loves her. While Edward knows Ariel’s physical appearance is gone her spiritual one still lingers in the lives of her loved ones. Ariel tries to communicate with Edward but always fails. Ariel also regrets not telling him she loved him while she was still living……” that’s the idea of our book so far. I was wondering if you could give us some tips and stuff because our moms think that we could actually publish this (but with our parents) and people could read it. I came to you because I love your work, Mrs. Larrabee, and I honestly can’t wait to read it in August while I’m in Brazil. But if you could give us some tips about our book that would be great!


Larissa D and Her Friend Sarah

Alyson Larrabee

8:16 AM (0 minutes ago)

to larissa

Dear Larissa and Sarah,

Number One: The fact that you’re writing to me on a Friday night in June (when many students are not thinking about their English teachers or writing) inspires me beyond anything most people can imagine. Your idea for a story is original and interesting. It has both physical action and an emotional and spiritual message. Mark Twain said that every good book should have action, adventure, romance and a lesson about life. (I’m paraphrasing.) Lesley Fiedler was an American literary critic and we had to read his book Love and Death in the American Novel when I was in college. He basically said, in his book, that all great literature is about Love or Death or both. You two girls seem to understand this, even though you’re not in college, yet.

Number Two: Here are a few words of advice.

Begin your story with an action scene that no one can turn away from. The reader will only want to turn the page to find out what will happen next. Make the stakes high for a character who’s important. Make the readers care about your character immediately by having her/him do something everyone can relate to right away. Something that makes her human (awkward, bumbling, idiotic). You have a great premise (basic inspirational idea) and it’s filled with opportunities for high stakes action. You have an alcoholic on-board, a rocky marriage. People can scream things and throw things. Go for it.

Change the way Ariel dies. I think it usually takes a lot of years for someone to die as a result of smoking cigarettes. You want her to die young, right? Not when she’s fifty or sixty? Also, cancer has been done big and recently, by John Greene in The Fault in Our Stars. Brainstorm some good death ideas: accidents, illnesses, murder Then choose one. I think that you want her to linger? Is that right? Not a sudden death? And that’s cool because then the two main characters can have some emotional scenes together and you can wring some tears out of the readers. People enjoy crying, especially teenage girls, hence the success of The Fault in Our Stars.

I LOVE the Point of View idea. You’re really challenging yourselves with that one, but it’s a great idea. And you can do it. I have confidence in you.

Also, change the guy’s name. The romantic interest in the Twilight series is Edward. Your ideas are unique and exciting, so let’s take out anything derivative (copying other famous, popular books).

I would like to publish your email to me and my response to you in my writer’s blog. Do I have your permission? Let’s get this thing going and keep it going. I’m PUMPED!

Mrs. Larrabee

PS. There are a lot of good blogs, written by writers that might help you. I’ve read some blog articles on co-writing books and I think you’ll find them both helpful and inspirational. I’ll give you some blog web addresses in school next week.