All posts by Regina Bethory

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

9 Writing Prompts to Jump-Start Creativity

With the end of Camp NaNoWriMo in sight, some have already reached their monthly goals while others are still reaching for the finish line. Don’t fret! It’s not too late to get some more words in, even if it’s not on your original project. After all, one of the main points of the NaNoWriMo challenges is to get you to write everyday. With that being said, here are 9 writing prompts to carry you through this last weekend and hopefully the finish line.

9 Writing Prompts

  1. Local townsfolk see a witch fly over the moon on a broomstick…literally.
  2. A loved one is reincarnated as their widow’s (or widower’s) house plant. Tell a story from their POV.
  3. Start a new scene by finishing this dialogue: “If we get this money…”
  4. A woman who has been missing for three weeks suddenly reappears with no memory of where she has been for that time.
  5. “Trespassers will be prosecuted.” Local teens wander onto a “vacant” lot.
  6. A woman receives a fortune telling her to be more daring, “Fortune favors the brave.” She takes the advice to heart and shows kindness to a man who breaks into her home. What happens next?
  7. Tell a story from a house’s POV or even just the stories from one room.
  8. “When her head hit the floor, it bounced slightly then came to a halt as her eyes stared blankly ahead. She wasn’t supposed to die. Not like that.”
  9. A person stumbles across a tombstone with their name on it…and perhaps their birth year.

I hope that some of these (at least one) will benefit you and help get the creative cogs turning in your brain. Sometimes when I read  writing prompts, I have new ideas. Did any of these stand out to you? If so, which ones? Did they spark any creative fires? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy writing!

-RB

 

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

Inspirational Video Games for Writers: The Legend of Zelda

I am a firm believer that inspiration can be found just about anywhere – movies, books, comics, dreams, stories from co-workers, an overheard conversation at Panera, etc. But one place that gets overlooked just as badly as comics is the world of video games. In this series, I’d like to cover a handful of video games that have inspired writing ideas of my own throughout the years. The first and probably most well-known game series that comes to mind is The Legend of Zelda.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

I came into the world of Zelda late. My first time being exposed to the wonder and creativity of the franchise was in the 7th grade when I received The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for Christmas. It was released on the Nintendo 64 system, a system which my parents purchased for me at the tender age of eleven and told me that in order to repay them for it, I had to empty the dishwasher for LIFE. It was worth every plate and piece of silverware I had to stash away in a cupboard.

Games such as Zelda, StarFox, Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, Forsaken 64, Hexen, Jet Force Gemini, War Gods, and DOOM infiltrated my childhood and carried me through my teenage years (at least until Harry Potter took my attention away). Nowadays its difficult to find the game system for less that $100 and even harder to find some of these classic games for less that $300 online.

Title screen/loading screen for the original Ocarina of Time released for n64.
The Best Video Game of All Time?

At the time, the Ocarina of Time was hailed as one of the best video games if not the best for the Nintendo systems. Decades later they would vastly out-do themselves with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (more on that later). Looking back at Ocarina of Time, the graphics were terrible compared to today’s standards but at the time, they were awesome!

So what made the game so great and inspiring?

One of the greatest appeals to video games is that they have the power to insert us into new worlds with new sets of rules. Instead of reading a book where we are at the mercy of the author, video games can follow a linear story line while still letting the player make the experience their own. Video games allow the audience to make decisions.

In some instances, those decisions affect game-play but this is not the case with Zelda. However, I discovered elements in the game that I had not yet seen in fiction (at least not as an 11-year-old.) Along with monsters and creatures that I’d never heard of and boss fights that were each unique and rewarding, there was a new set of rules.

Photo credit to cubed3.com
A New set of Rules
  • Players could trap fairies in bottles for life restoration.
  • Dungeons and temples aren’t just buildings in the world. One is inside the belly of a volcano, another is inside the belly of a fish and a third inside of an ancient tree!
  • Monsters came out when the sun went down.
  • A house filled with cursed spider-people awarded treasures to you when you cured them of their spider-ness (seriously the stuff of nightmares).
  • Blue flame and the ability to trap it in a bottle to melt ice later.
  • Music changed the weather, changed the flow of time (Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask) or teleported you across the world.
  • Arrows wielded elemental magic (light, ice, fire, etc.)
  • Special clothing allowed players to endure underwater questing or intense heat.
  • Bombs grew out of the ground as plants.
  • Money and magic were found my destroying things, looking under rocks or cutting the grass.
  • Ghosts could be trapped in a bottle. (Seriously, obtaining bottles was a personal goal in this game.)
  • Masks gave you new abilities, changing your body into something else (specifically in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask).
  • Secret grottos contained treasure, riddles and puzzles to solve.
  • There is another world at the bottom of a well.
  • There is an artifact that allows you to see through false walls.
  • You can fly while holding onto a chicken…cough… I mean, cucco.
Hidden at “The Bottom of the Well” …Is this not one of the creepiest things? Photo credit belongs to duly-nerded.com.

And those are only to name a few. Though many of these elements are commonplace by today’s video-gaming standards, they weren’t always. Keep in mind that this game was originally released in 1998.

A Magical Universe to Explore

There were all sorts of unspoken treasures and secrets hidden in the land of Hyrule. It was a colorful world and I was also very into the plotline. Having never played a Zelda game before, when I sat down to play Ocarina of Time, I was fully engrossed.

I knew nothing of Zelda at that time and became fascinated by this “Hero of Time,” the Triforce, and characters like the Great Deku Tree and Impa. Speaking of the Great Deku Tree, I would often walk in just to hear the hauntingly beautiful music. Needless to say, this was the first video game that prompted me to buy its soundtrack and still remains to be one of the few. I’m listening to it as I write this post.

Obsessed With the Cultures and Lore of Hyrule

After I defeated The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, I couldn’t get enough of the land of Hyrule. Not only did I replay the game, but I also got a Gameboy Color and games like Link’s Awakening and Oracle of the Seasons. However, Zelda in 2D didn’t provide the same inspiration as Zelda in 3D, at least not for me.

However, I was still inspired by the diverse races and cultures of Hyrule. From the ancient and wise Sheikah to the child-like Kokiri, my mind was racing with all sorts of creative ideas for a fantasy realm of my own. Hyrule’s lore was rich in spirituality and history. To this day I still find myself reading up on it to learn more.

The seven sages.

It wasn’t long after the success of the new Zelda games for Nintendo to release The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. Though I helped my nephew beat it years later, I was never a big fan of the game myself. I’m not a big fan of time limits and the game is one BIG time limit. Time limit quests are one of my least favorite things in video games (right next to in-game rain – cough, cough – Breath of the Wild brought that to a whole new level of hatred). As years passed, my love for Zelda was passed on to my nephew as he grew up playing older games like Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Twilight Princess and others.

Will There Ever Be Anything as Magical and Inspiring as the First Time I Played a Zelda Game?

At this point, that first Zelda game was unbeatable in my mind. Nothing could top it and I would never experience that sense of awe, wonder and inspiration again. My memory of the game never faded but my interest moved to others video games, seeking and sometimes finding inspiration in them. This was until another Zelda was released.

The Nintendo Switch and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

No longer the naïve, sheltered eleven-year-old that was playing her first real video game, I’m now a fully-fledged adult who has been exposed to so much fantasy and magic throughout the years (I’m still obsessed with the Harry Potter Series). By this time, I had played World of Warcraft on and off for years, dreamed of becoming a Grey Jedi, played Fable a dozen times, and volunteered myself into the Hunger Games (I’m from District 4). This game had its work cut out for it. And boy did it do an outstanding job!

First of all, let me say that purchasing the Nintendo Switch was no easy decision. After looking at the other games for the system at the time, nothing appealed to me except Zelda and we struggled with the idea of buying a whole new console for one game, especially as minimalists.

But our desire for this game was great. So we purchased a Switch, (along with a larger controller for his man hands) and we purchased the DLC along with the game. It was an investment to say the least. However, the enjoyment that we both got out of the game as well as the inspiration that it reignited in me (giving me at least one novel idea) was worth it.

Relishing in the Breath of the Wild

Not only did Breath of the Wild keep hold of certain classic Zelda elements such as the elemental arrows (adding bomb and ancient arrows), and special garb but the creators expounded upon it. Drawing from other popular RPGs, players were now able to brew elixirs and potions, cook unique recipes for attack and defense boosts, collect multiple armor sets and use items from the world to upgrade their stats – often granting stronger abilities once the complete set was obtained and upgraded. Things like swim speed, climbing speed, lightening resistance and stealth to name a few.

Climbing presented a whole new way to explore the game. Vast canyons and mountain regions were now 100% explorable and filled with unique monsters and puzzles to titillate our minds.

Drawing Writing Inspiration from Breath of the Wild

In a completely open world, anything is possible. Things in this game were unpredictable and largely based on the players decisions. Don’t believe me? Check out this fan made video on YouTube. Seriously, you don’t even have to play the game to find it hilarious.

This video alone provided so many ideas from the game that I could inject into writing. How?

  1. What can go wrong, will go wrong.
  2. Death finds a way.
  3. Anything is possible. Literally.

When writing a story, authors often talk about the slow, sagging middle of the story. What if, like in the video above, an arrow is shot at them from an unseen enemy in the middle of nowhere? The treasure they were seeking kills them? They are able to have one enemy attack another? Video games with such an open world filled with possibilities can open up ideas in your writing.

Magic is Only Science Which Hasn’t Been Explained

The Sheikah Slate, a smartphone or tablet-like device in BoTW,  presented players with the ability to use technology that was “ancient.” Players could not only use it to map the humongous map, but also to freeze time for specific objects, move metallic objects, create ice from water, track resources and create bombs. The so-called “ancient” technology provided a way for advanced science to enter a world of magic. Hey science fiction and fantasy authors, I’m looking at you!

Photo credit: Zeldapedia
Other Inspiration from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • Shield surfing
  • Paragliding
  • Having an enemy get electrocuted during battle because he was fighting with a metal weapon in the middle of a lightening storm.
  • Special abilities granted to you from dead friends.
  • Melee weapons augmented with elemental properties.
  • The possibility that your weapon can break mid-battle.
  • A blood moon which when rises, resurrects all the previously defeated monsters.

Players are also introduced to new groups of people like The Yiga Clan and the Rito. Now, the Rito race was featured in another Zelda game that I didn’t play so while this was the first I’d seen them, they weren’t entirely new. I fell in love with the Rito Champion, Revali, and adored the Gerudo Champion, Urbosa. Characters like this, along with the amount of cut-scenes, bring that much more depth and pleasure to an already vast and amazing world.

Photo credit: Zeldapedia

I hope if you’re struggling to find inspiration, you take a look into some video games. Keep in mind that they are another form of story-telling and can be a valuable resource for those who know where to look.

Happy gaming!

-RB

Cover Art from GQ.com

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

On Poetry (2)

To read the introduction into this series On Poetry, please visit my first post here.

Poetry

So Like a Rose

Her beauty is so like a rose,

Like a rose, fair and pink,

So precious and delicate to the touch.

She flows like the soft hues of the dawn,

As her grace dances through the spring breeze.

Her skin is as snow while her eyes are as crystal.

So like a rose in the gentle rain,

Her laughter sings sweetly as glassy,

Pink tears stream down her rosy cheeks.

 

Her words are so like a rose,

Like a rose, thorny and dark,

So harsh and bitter is the taste.

Her voice stabs like the thunder’s crack,

She screams like the wind’s howl, stinging like a spider’s bite.

Her hair is as night while her teeth are as the sun.

So like a rose in the pounding hail,

Her mournful cry reaches the depths of space,

As she withers away throughout time.

Is it the Diner?

Is it the diner with dim lighting

And bad food?

The one with horrible service,

The waitresses that smoke, sleep around

And wear those ugly mustard yellow

Uniforms over their used bodies?

 

Or is it the diner with bright lights,

Where you take your poodle-skirted

Girlfriend after school for a chocolate malt?

The one where the waiters have a friendly

Smile under those goofy white hats

And the jukebox plays that

Aretha Franklin hit every 2 hours?

 

I always group these two poems of mine together because they both display two distinctly different versions of the same thing. Have any of you tried your hand at poetry? Let me know about your experience in the comments below!

Thank you for reading!

-RB

 

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

Overcoming Writer’s Block with Automatic Transcription

This article is originally published by Descript.

If you’re a writer — of books, essays, scripts, blog posts, whatever — you’re familiar with the phenomenon: the blank screen, a looming deadline, and a sinking feeling in your gut that pairs poorly with the jug of coffee you drank earlier.

If you know that rumble all too well: this post is for you. Maybe it’ll help you get out of a rut; at the very least, it’s good for a few minutes of procrastination.

Here’s the core idea: thinking out loud is often less arduous than writing. And it’s now easier than ever to combine the two, thanks to recent advances in speech recognition technology.

Of course, dictation is nothing new — and plenty of writers have taken advantage of it. Carl Sagan’s voluminous output was facilitated by his process of speaking into an audio recorder, to be transcribed later by an assistant (you can listen to some of his dictations in the Library of Congress!) And software like Dragon’s Naturally Speaking has offered automated transcription for people with the patience and budget to pursue it.

But it’s only in the last couple of years that automated transcription has reached a sweet spot — of convenience, affordability and accuracy—that makes it practical to use it more casually. And I’ve found it increasingly useful for generating a sort of proto-first draft: an alternative approach to the painful process of converting the nebulous wisps inside your head into something you can actually work with.

I call this process idea extraction (though these ideas may be more accurately dubbed brain droppings).

Part I: Extraction

Here’s how my process works. Borrow what works for you and forget the rest — and let me know how it goes!

  • Pick a voice recorder. Start talking. Try it with a topic you’ve been chewing on for weeks — or when an idea flits your head. Don’t overthink it. Just start blabbing.
  • The goal is to tug on as many threads as you come across, and to follow them as far as they go. These threads may lead to meandering tangents— and you may discover new ideas along the way.
  • A lot of those new ideas will probably be embarrassingly bad. That’s fine. You’re already talking about the next thing! And unlike with text, your bad ideas aren’t staring you in the face.
  • Consider leaving comments to yourself as you go — e.g. “Maybe that’d work for the intro”. These will come in handy later.
  • For me, these recordings run anywhere from 20–80 minutes. Sometimes they’re much shorter, in quick succession. Whatever works.

Part II: Transcription

Once I’ve finished recording, it’s time to harness ⚡️The Power of Technology⚡️

A little background: over the last couple of years there’s been an explosion of tools related to automatic speech recognition (ASR) thanks to huge steps forward in the underlying technologies.

Here’s how ASR works: you import your audio into the software, the software uses state-of-the-art machine learning to spit back a text transcript a few minutes later. That transcript won’t be perfect—the robots are currently in the ‘Write drunk’ phase of their careers. But for our purposes that’s fine: you just need it to be accurate enough that you can recognize your ideas.

Once you have your text transcript, your next step is up to you: maybe you’re exporting your transcript as a Word doc and revising from there. Maybe you’re firing up your voice recorder again to dictate a more polished take. Maybe only a few words in your audio journey are worth keeping — but that’s fine too. It probably didn’t cost you much (and good news: the price for this tech will continue to fall in the years ahead).

A few more tips:

  • Use a recorder/app that you trust. Losing a recording is painful — and the anxiety of losing another can derail your most exciting creative moments (“I hope this recorder is working. Good, it is… @#*! where was I?”)
  • Audio quality matters when it comes to automatic transcription. If your recording has a lot of background noise or you’re speaking far away from the mic, the accuracy is going to drop. Consider using earbuds (better yet: Airpods) so you can worry less about where you’re holding the recorder.
  • Find a comfortable space. Eventually you may get used to having people overhear your musings, but it’s a lot easier to let your mind “go for a walk” when you’re comfortable in your environment.
  • Speaking of walking: why not go for a stroll? The pains of writing can have just as much to do with being stationary and hunched over. Walking gets your blood flowing — and your ideas too.
  • I have a lot of ideas, good and bad, while I’m thinking out loud and playing music at the same time (in my case, guitar — but I suspect it applies more broadly). There’s something about playing the same four-chord song on auto pilot for the thousandth time that keeps my hands busy and leaves my mind free to wander.

The old ways of doing things — whether it’s with a keyboard or pen — still have their advantages. Putting words to a page can force a sort of linear thinking that is otherwise difficult to maintain. And when it comes to editing, it’s no contest: QWERTY or bust.

But for getting those first crucial paragraphs down (and maybe a few keystone ideas to build towards)? Consider talking to yourself. Even if you wind up with a transcript full of nothing but profanity — well, have you ever seen a transcript full of profanity? You could do a lot worse.

This article is originally published by Descript.

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

Traveling Alone as a Female and on a Budget – My Solo Road Trip from Virginia to Maine

Almost five years ago to the day, I embarked on my first real road trip from Virginia to Maine. And I did it traveling alone. If anyone tells you that you can’t travel alone as a female, they’re wrong. It was a very liberating experience. At the time, I owned next to nothing and was living paycheck by paycheck. Do we live in a dangerous world? Yes. There is going to be danger wherever you go. There are dangers where you live now. As long as you have a good head on your shoulders, take proper precautions and use a little common sense, you can have a safe and successful trip.

In a previous post, I discussed travel safety tips. Here, I’m going to share with you my experience in traveling alone all those years ago when I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Back then I had no credit cards (Smart, though I had applied for one through my bank before the trip…it arrived in the mail the day after I left. Probably for the best.) Being tight on budget, I didn’t even own a smart phone! Instead, I spent my nights in the hotel room planning my next day by looking up things to do on my laptop and programming addresses into my TomTom.

Leaving Southeastern Virginia

Though it wasn’t the first time I’d left home, I hadn’t done that much traveling in the past. Previously, my family had taken me on road trips to visit an older brother in Arkansas and New York. I had even been to Canada on one occasion, to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and to Pennsylvania for a funeral. So it wasn’t that I hadn’t been out, it was that I hadn’t been out on my own for my own reasons.

I made everything up as I went with certain interests I knew I wanted to see. Mainly, the goal was to reach the state of Maine (no pun intended). I’m not sure what was pulling me towards the state but I felt compelled to go.

First, I traveled west towards the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Once I reached the Natural Bridge Caverns, I toured them to stretch my legs, then continued up the scenic route of Skyline Drive.

Skyline Drive

No pictures can ever fully capture the beauty of this place. If you ever have the chance to view the beauty of the mountains, the western part of Virginia and the state of West Virginia are the best places to view them in the east. With that being said, I will leave you with these:

This photo was actually taken years earlier at the top of Molly’s Knob. Every year my high school cross country team ventured to Hungry Mother State Park and Molly’s Knob was the final ascent. From the top you can see into 5 different states. It is part of the same mountain range.

The vast openness of the rolling hills and white, puffy clouds were peaceful and captivating.

Luray Caverns

After adventuring down Skyline Drive, I made my way towards the Luray Caverns. Far more vast and commercialized than the Natural Bridge Caverns, the rest at the northern tip of Skyline Drive. I was determined to get there before they closed for the day (Yes, so far this has only been one day…and a lot of driving).

Once again, pictures cannot do this place justice. If I ever go again, I vow to take none and instead, enjoy the beauty and splendor of seeing it with my own eyes. Sometimes when we go on trips we spend so much time taking pictures that we forget to take in the experience.

Some formations look like they were taken straight out of a Dr. Seuss book.

I believe this formation was dubbed “Mammoth.”
Would you believe me if I told you that ha;f of this picture is a reflection? In some places, the water beneath is so still, that it’s almost impossible to tell while standing there, looking at it.
Can to tell where the water stops and starts? This is another reflection shot.

A Random Motel in Luray

After I left the caverns, I found a place to settle in for the night. Since I had been “winging” it, I hadn’t booked any place in advance. This was long before the days of being a Hilton Honors Club Member. I checked into the last room of a motel that was $50 a night. This night was one of the moments that I realized how spoiled and privileged I was during my childhood.

The room had no wi-fi, millions of dead beetles in the window sill and bug traps/poison hidden in corners and behind the furniture. I’m not even sure what kind of bug they were trying to kill and I didn’t want to find out. That night, I refused to shower or even undress at all. After sitting on the bed and having a good cry (realizing how naive I had been all my life and how easy I’d had it), I dead-bolted the door (yes, the motel had dead-bolts), I put the desk chair up against it and my heavy luggage on top of that.

I refused to leave anything on the floor because of bugs and for the same reason I slept on top of the covers, fully clothed and with the lights on. Exhausted, I didn’t even bother to watch the television. Instead, I was thankful to have a place to sleep even with the fear of bug infestations and possible intruders trying to break down my door. After all, I had seen enough horror films that took place in motels out in the middle of nowhere.

Crash Diet

Not that I’ve ever been large (I’ve never been more than a size 2), but I had a small belly before I started the trip. Yes, even size 2’s get bellies. Throughout the course of this trip, my diet consisted of yogurt, granola bars and water. Once a day I would try and stop for a plate of pasta or a slice of pizza (a far cry from our now seven-course meals at modern sushi joints in DC, thank you, honey!) If you’re ever looking to lose weight (I’m not a doctor so you probably shouldn’t listen to this), one week of eating like that made any pudge I had vanish almost overnight.

Heading Towards Vermont

I knew that it would still take me more than a day to get to Maine, even without stopping and sight-seeing anywhere. Since I didn’t have wi-fi the night before or a smart phone with any kind of data plan, I stuck to the road the next day and rove through Pennsylvania and the country-side of New York. By the time I reached Vermont, I was exhausted and determined to find a place to stay that had internet.

I found a quaint motel in Bennington, Vermont that charged $100 a night. It was well kept and I felt safe showering and sleeping in my pajamas unlike the night before. It’s amazing what small comforts can do. Having internet, I took the time to plan the rest of my trip to Maine and figure out what I would do once I got there.

The place I stayed in Vermont was just around the corner from a legendary haunted house as well as the cemetery where Robert Frost was buried. As a total taphophile, I couldn’t help but take pictures in the graveyard. And no, I don’t remember the name of the house but it is there!

Making to to Maine, “The Southern North”

Maine is often called “The Southern North” because the people there have southern hospitality despite being among the northern “yankee” states of New England. Up here there are no Cracker Barrels, lots of wine and jam is made from blueberries and you can buy lobster on just about every corner. I’d go back in a heart beat.

I ventured to the Botanical Gardens which were filled with plants and sculptures of all kinds. Inside, was an interactive map where visitors were encouraged to add their zip codes. There was one other visitor from my zip code…and I have yet to track them down and find them!

I was lucky enough to miss the rain but you can see the remnant of it darkening the letters of this stone. “You must do something to make the world more beautiful.” Words to live by!
Three friendly Maine frogs, sharing a rock in one of the botanical garden’s ponds.
This was probably my favorite sculpture in the park, the porcupine. So creative!

Cellardoor Winery and Maine Desert

After leaving the gardens, I ventured out to the desert. Yes, there is a desert in Maine. Didn’t know that? Neither did I and it’s getting smaller and smaller each year so you might want to go see it while you can.

Headed towards the Cellardoor Winery located in Lincolnsville, ME, I was originally under the impression that it was named after a scene in The Lord of the Rings. In both the book and movie versions, there is a scene where the fellowship comes across a large door where they must “Speak ‘friend’ and enter.” While this is not the case, the actual story isn’t far from that.

According to the Cellardoor Winery Website, the story goes as follows:

A Symbol of Welcome and Friendship

As the story goes, a hobo, a traveler looking for work nearly 100 years ago, visited our farm in Lincolnville. He was welcomed. He felt safe. Upon his departure, he carved in the barn door a “hobo symbol” to let fellow travelers know they would find hospitality here.

All these years later, we have proudly embraced, are motivated by, this story and the spirit of welcome meant to be offered to guests. While the door with the fabled hand carving is treasured, we have adopted a current day artist’s interpretation of it as our logo. It is our inspiration to beat our guests’ expectations, to offer a respite from busy lives.

When you see our Hobo symbol, know that you are in a safe and friendly place. We invite you to our Cellardoor properties with open hearts, generosity, and camaraderie. Whether you join us for a tour of our winery, a wine tasting, a food and wine pairing, or one of our big events, we hope you enjoy your time with us.

A view from the balcony of the winery where I ate a late lunch.
A motto found along a lot of their merchandise.

Inside the Winery

While I didn’t see any offerings of tours, there were two tasting bars inside. At the time, they offered a free tasting of four wines at each bar on Sundays (which happened to be the day I was there!). You could pay a little extra to sample 8 wines at the first bar. The second bar featured meat and cheese accompaniments. It was well worth the trip!

Ogunquit Beach, Maine.

On my last night I stayed two nights in Bath, Maine before heading back south towards Ogunquit Beach. Staying my last night there, I found the only place I could with a vacancy, which happened to be within walking distance to the beach.

It was incredibly peaceful to walk along an uncrowded beach with low humidity in the middle of August. (Something you’d be hard-pressed to find in Southeastern Virginia.) It was my last moment of peace and solace before making the 13 hour drive back home to an area that I consider to be filled with toxic and close-minded people.

Arriving Home

When I got home, the excitement of my trip was quickly squashed and squandered by co-workers. You see, all of my jobs have been “male-dominated” and by that I mean that I was always in an environment where I was surrounded by men. When I would excitedly tell them about all the fun I had on my trip, I was often met with responses like, “You went alone!?” “You didn’t take your man with you?” (At the time I was either fresh out of a relationship or just starting a new one, can’t remember). “Why did you go by yourself? You should’ve taken your boyfriend.” “Women shouldn’t travel alone.” And the list goes on…

There’s also a lot of men out there who like to deny that men who would say such things exist. I started to fire back with my own questions. “Why do I have to have a man with me?” “Do you not think a woman can survive without a man?” “Yes, I went alone and I’m still alive. I wasn’t mugged, raped or kidnapped. So your point is?”

Take a Stand Against the “Norm”

While my parents didn’t speak against it, my aunt and older cousin were for some reason in awe of me. They think I’m cool because I  packed a bag and went to Maine on a whim. I never understood why, at least at the time, I didn’t. I see it now. My aunt and older cousin were from the same upbringing as I was, along with my mother.

My mother would often tell me growing up, “You don’t do that. You’re a woman and women don’t do that.” “Women don’t pump their own gas, that’s a man’s job.” “Women don’t take out the trash, that’s a man’s job.” And while all of that “was a man’s job” never once did she clarify what a women’s job was. She herself was big into microwave cooking and she never forced me to sew or learn any sort of “home-making” tasks. So what she really left me with was a blank slate.

Nothing was Specifically My Job

But that meant, I had to choose a path for myself and honestly, I enjoyed mowing the lawn. And I really didn’t mind pumping my own gas, much to her chagrin. My aunt and cousin thought I was awesome because I was woman willing to go against what she’d been taught by her upbringing. I continue to do this to this day which pisses some people off.

While the gender dynamics at my work place are changing, that is a big can of worms for an already long post. I have been asked on more that one occasion, “Why can’t you just do as your told?” “Why can’t you just fall in line and be like everyone else?” Because I’m not meant to be. It’s not in my nature.

I challenge anyone reading this, whether you’re a man or woman, it doesn’t matter, to challenge the status quo. Question why you do the things you do. Is it because someone else told you that’s what you’re supposed to do? Or is it because you want to do it?

Women, it’s OK to travel alone. Men, it’s OK to show emotion. Women, you don’t have to shrink yourself or blend in. Men, you don’t have to always make the plans. Be different. All of you 🙂

Thank you for reading!

-RB

 

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.