Monday, May 14, 2018: #UpbeatAuthors The Next Step on the Ladder

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Photo courtesy Khimish Sharma, via Pexels.com

Monday, May 14, 2018
Dark of the Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

 

My first response to that is, “Which ladder?” I have various limbs on various ladders. I write in different genres, under different names, in a variety of formats: prose, theatre, television, film, radio. Journalism. Essays. Marketing writing. Reviewing.

I do very little editing for private clients now, because the time/money ratio doesn’t work for me, too many would-be writers default on payments (when they’re not trying to lowball me down to a fraction of my rate), and I need the primary focus to be on my own work. When I edit, I am generally hired by the publishing house to work for something under contract that has passed particular gate-keeping standards.

I am with more than one publisher. One of them, who has signed several projects, is small, just starting out. We are taking a risk on each other. Among the reasons I was excited to work with them was that they pay small advances, don’t demand their writers acquiesce to a boiler-plate contract AND, instead of POD, they do small print runs. The print runs are after a certain digital threshhold is reached, but the POD model was not working for me, so I wanted to try this. I am still with another publisher who is doing the POD model, and I have submissions out to several other publishers, who work on a mix of models, so we’ll see what happens. I also liked them because the editor with whom I’m working constantly pushes me to be better. And that is my goal — that every book I write is better, in both craft and art, than the previous books.

About a year ago, I sat down with a lawyer, an agent, an editor, and a marketing advisor, and we came up with a plan. I was unhappy and frustrated with the way things were going in my career. I knew I wasn’t writing what the Big Five wanted; I wanted to explore some things that they are currently giving lip service to, but not following through on, and I wanted to do it in my way. We were not a good fit at the time. I knew I was going to part from an agent I’d been working with for several months, because we were not a good fit. When we got together, she was excited by my work and my voice; but the more we worked together, the more she wanted to dilute it and take out what made it unique. She kept telling me my themes and issues were “too hard for the typical reader.” In other words, she wanted me to dumb things down, and I didn’t want to do that. Also, she only wanted to commit to a book at a time, and I need an agent who is interested in long-term career planning. She has since signed a friend of mine, and they’re doing great together. I’m happy for both of them; they are the right fit. We were not.

As far as the marketing writing went, I wanted to have the confidence to say “No” to the lowballers locally and reach farther afield. The interesting thing is that as soon as I did that, I landed two clients locally with whom I work well, WHILE also reaching beyond the bridge for clients who pay better.

We took four or five days together, and I took about twenty pages of notes. We crafted a plan. Some of that we followed; some of that has fallen by the wayside for various reasons.

I re-stated my commitment not to “niche” — to me, that’s a death toll for a creative life. Far too many people who “advise” freelancers sneer and call what I do a “generalist.” I prefer to call it being a “Renaissance Writer” and I’ve written on this topic for both WOW-Women on Writing and Write Naked!

I wanted to get back into article writing, which fell by the wayside for a bit. I started pitching again, and I did pretty well, but that seems to be one of the things that falls away first. Since I enjoy articles — every part from the pitch through the research through the writing and the polish, especially working with a good editor — I need to get back on track with that.

One of the big changes I made was in the way I do pitch letters. Instead of trying to frame what I do to sound like what they want, I’m more specific in the elements I think will appeal and more specific in where our paths diverge. I’m more myself in the cover letter — while still structuring it the way I find works — hook, one paragraph summary, technical info, bio, why this market. And the results are good.

This year and next, I’m on a brutal contract schedule. I’d spent a couple of years working on different types of material, on working on craft. Now, with a commitment to more than one series, I am sitting down and writing the books.

Last year, PLAYING THE ANGLES was re-released, as the first of the Coventina Circle paranormal romantic suspense novels (in its original incarnation, it was a stand-alone). The second book in the series, THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, just released, and the third, RELICS & REQUIEM, will come out in October of this year, with the fourth, GRAVE REACH, coming out in May of 2019. So that’s a tight schedule.

Last year, the first Nautical Namaste mystery, SAVASANA AT SEA (as Ava Dunne) released. It’s a not-quite-cozy mystery series, whose protagonist is a yoga instructor on a cruise ship. Only one of those books comes out a year! But the next one, DAVY JONES DHARMA, is due in early December this year.

TRACKING MEDUSA, the first Gwen Finnegan mystery, re-released this past January. As I worked on the second book, THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, I realized that there was a chunk of it that slowed down the plot. Yet the information was necessary to where my characters were in their emotional lives and how they’d built their day-to-day relationships. Flashbacks and info-dump conversations wouldn’t work; so my editor and I decided to pull out those chapters, flesh them out into a “between-the-books” novella, now called MYTH & INTERPRETATION, and put that out this summer. BALTHAZAAR is still scheduled to come out in January of 2019, and that is now back on track, the pace and content correct.

In the meantime, I had three terrific opportunities. One was to pitch a serial. Those of you who’ve known me for several years know that I used to write four serials in four genres under two names for 18 months a few years back. A total of 8000 words a month. I love writing serials, and I miss it. I had the chance to pitch to a company that specializes in serials.

I pitched a fantasy/adventure novel. I’d written the first four chapters a couple of years ago and put it aside for scheduling reasons. But, when I had this opportunity, I wrote a few more chapters, and outlined what would be the book-length arc of this serial. I fell in love with it all over again. If it’s picked up, it goes back in the schedule; if not, it will be back-burnered again.

I also had two other ideas, stand-alones, that I played with, on and off for a couple of years, writing my way in the first few chapters, then making notes for my Writers’ Rough. On impulse, I polished pitches and tossed them into a Twitter pitch day for a specific company. Editors liked both; so I’m working on some additional chapters, polishing them, and sending them out by deadline this month. Again, if the editors want the full manuscript, they go back into the schedule sooner rather than later; if not, they are back-burnered until next year, when my contract schedule isn’t quite as demanding.

As I said above, I have a couple of other pieces out on submission; if they are contracted, they will be worked in. I also have a serial novel — which is different than a novel broken down as a serial. This is a set of novels that are all of a piece. It follows the filming of a television series over several seasons. Not a series, in the sense that each stands alone and progresses. These novels all fit together like puzzle pieces. One of my publishers has expressed interest in looking at it when the first five or so puzzle pieces are ready. When will that be? I don’t know.

I also made a commitment to do more script work again. I’m taking this year off from stage plays (I wrote four in three years for 365 Women). But one of my radio plays will be produced later this month, and I want to submit some screenplays I’ve polished.

Along with all this, I will pitch to higher-paying clients and higher-paying article markets. Gotta keep a roof over my head, and if I don’t keep up the writing pace I can’t. This is my profession, not my hobby. I am paid to write. That IS my day job. While my book sales have jumped considerably since I moved webhosts and redesigned my websites, I still need the marketing writing and article writing for income. Plus, I enjoy it.

So, my “next step” is building on the foundation of the series on which I currently write; continuing to expand the publication contracts with other publishers at higher-paying tiers, and book higher-paid marketing and article gigs.

I’ve found a process that works for me as far as the new ideas — because, as we all know, new ideas come in batches. I write my way in for a few chapters, then sit down and do a Writer’s Rough Outline. That way, whenever I can actually sit down and WRITE the book, I can drop into its world. The Writer’s Rough outline captures the initial energy of the idea, and then, as I work, I can develop the structure and the craft.

In the coming weeks, we will sit down again and assess how this last year played out. What worked, what didn’t. Where I lost focus, and what I dropped because it didn’t work. And we will craft a plan for the coming year that will guide me toward the “next step on the ladder.”

I don’t want fame. I worked in theatre and film for too many years and see how it can hurt creativity and general life; that is not what I want. I do want financial stability, and to be paid fairly for my work. There is no reason not to be paid well doing work I love. My profession is writing. I will not let ANYONE decide that it’s a cute lil hobby and I don’t deserve to be paid a living wage. I will dig in and do it, and earn my living. It will be a mix and match of projects and styles and tangents, but writing is my profession. When I decided I wanted to work on Broadway, I didn’t let anything or anyone stand in the way of achieving that goal. Now that I’m writing full-time, I feel the same way.

My next step is increased earnings and visibility for my work. It is also participating in the community of writers who love what they do and are committed to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work across the board, no matter what the profession. It is refusing to “dumb it down” or change what I write because people I don’t respect threaten not to buy what I write. The great thing about writing is that there are plenty of authors writing in plenty of styles and genres, so there’s something for everyone. It’s fine if someone doesn’t connect with my work — there are wonderful authors out there with whom they WILL connect. But threatening me and demanding I change what I write is not going to work.

Artists have a responsibility. I believe that responsibility is to bear witness to the world, to expand people’s vision of the world, but also to create better worlds and help us find ways to reach those better worlds inclusively and fairly. A better world needs social and economic justice. By respecting our own value, our own worth, we set the tone.

For more inspiration on valuing your work, please visit Lori Widmer’s Words on the Page blog. It’s great all the time, but May is Writers Worth Month. It’s especially great now.

 

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Fri. Feb. 16, 2018: More Website Building Adventures & Digging in To Write

Friday, February 16, 2018
Waxing Moon
Rainy and mild

Busy day yesterday. Not enough writing done, but when is there?

The mid-month check-in is up on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site.

The Devon Ellington website is ready to move. There are tweaks I’ll have to do as soon as the site goes live, especially when it comes to creating custom perma-links. But the text and the look work for me. I mean, I kind of wish I could do a slight parchment color on the background, so the text isn’t against something so white, but I’m not quite savvy enough or confident enough to change the CSS script to do it. Not yet, anyway!

So now, I go into my pHp admin, change the links from the temporary building URL, and then dig in to my old webhost to try and point the site to the new address.

It’s also a case of creating the email addresses on the new site, and then setting up the subdomains for each series. I already put the pinned posts up on the various Facebook pages for each series to let them know that the old sites will be dark while the new sites are built.

I rebuilt the Devon Ellington Work site on a temporary URL, so I could test and tweak as I built and gain confidence. The subdomains, one for each series, will be built live. Yes, that’s a risk, but it’s easier (I think) than creating a temporary URL for each of them and then moving it. We’ll see, right?

I hope the site move will happen over the weekend, so I can start building the subdomains next week. I’d like to get them all up in about a week or so.

And then I’ll set up a temporary URL for Fearless Ink and work on that build, and, finally, the Cerridwen’s Cottage site. I’m looking forward to being done!

But I’ve learned a lot. And I have a stack of books to teach me more! 😉

So, I spent yesterday morning building and editing the Devon Ellington site. I still have to come up with logos for the Gwen Finnegan Mysteries and the Jain Lazarus Adventures, but I can always create those and add them in.

Then, I took a much-needed break for yoga class. Boy, did I need it. The stress from the past few weeks took a toll on my body.

After that, I spent the afternoon on site working with a client.

Today, early morning grocery shopping, then time on the site move, and then, for the weekend, I’m digging into SPIRIT REPOSITORY. The original due date was yesterday; thank goodness it was moved. But I want to get some serious work done on it.

And I have to find a new drum for my laser printer.

Have a great weekend!

 

Published in: on February 16, 2018 at 10:48 am  Comments Off on Fri. Feb. 16, 2018: More Website Building Adventures & Digging in To Write  
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Thurs. Oct. 26, 2017: Savasana Pre-Sale and My Mother’s Surgery

Savasana at Sea Cover Choice 1

Savasana at Sea is available for pre-orders. Links here and here.

Yoga Instructor Sophie Batchelder’s wonderful life gets turned upside down when she’s fired from her job and dumped by her fiancé in the same day. Grabbing the opportunity to assist the yoga instructor on a cruise ship headed for the Bahamas for ten days, she discovers her predecessor’s body, and the rumors that she’s taking over in that predecessor’s blackmail operation put her own life in danger. She must use intelligence, humor, and intuition to clear her name and save her own life.

Along the way, she’s swept up in the frenetic, stressful, life that happens beyond the “employees only” door of a cruise ship, and finds romantic possibilities and disappointments. Can she live a yogic path and survive cruise ship life? A Not-Quite-Cozy Mystery.

Thursday, October 26, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and warm

Savasana at Sea is available for pre-order. The easiest place to find the ever-increasing buy links is to visit the Pronoun page or the Savasana at Sea page on the Nautical Namaste website.

Today is my mother’s surgery. I dropped her off; it will take 3-6 hours. I’m going to do some work, and then go back and pick her up. Fingers crossed that it all goes well. I think I’m more nervous about it than she is.

Yesterday was my first day with a new client. I’ll be spending several days a week on site with the company, doing some co-writing, ghost-writing, deepening content, expanding their audience. It’s a small office, and I really like the two other people with whom I’m working.  I also learned how they price their merchandise, background on the company, and co-wrote/shaped the answers to interview questions with the designer. That all worked well.

Still no check from the other freelance gig. This is the latest they’ve ever been, and it’s annoying.

Only about 500 words on MARRIAGE GARDEN, but some words are better than no words.

Tuesday, I took my mom for her final pre-op appointment. It went well. While she was in her appointment, I worked on a survey for working writers that I will do on Survey Monkey. I’ll post the link all over the place, because I want the largest possible number of working writers possible to answer the questions. I will do an article about the findings at the very least; I also want to find out if there are other writers who feel that the current writing publications are geared too much to beginners. There are several options if that’s the case; none of which I can publicly discuss right now.

Taking another look at the galleys of SAVASANA, to see if we have to make any changes before the Nov. 15 release. Also finishing up the media kit so that I can get that up, and starting the marketing push. Trying to maintain/accelerate the marketing for PLAYING THE ANGLES at the same time.

Have a few things to send off to a different client today, ahead of Monday’s meeting.

But most of my focus is on hoping things go well with my mother’s surgery.

Onward.

Playing The Angles Cover Sm

Playing the Angles, the first Coventina Circle Paranormal Romantic Suspense Novel, is available here and here.

Mon. Sept. 25, 2017: Writing Weekend

Playing The Angles Cover Sm

Monday, September 25, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

After a week, the sun finally peeked out yesterday afternoon. Eight gloomy days — it was nice to have a little light.

Urgent meeting this morning, so I’m late getting on line today. Apologies. In general, I’m still difficult to reach.

Don’t forget — PLAYING THE ANGLES releases NEXT MONDAY! I can’t believe it. I’m excited and nervous. You can find all sorts of buy links here.

Busy weekend, mostly writing. I worked and re-worked the first chapter of DAVY JONES DHARMA, the second Nautical Namaste Mystery, until I was happy and excited with it. Worked on front and back matter for the book — almost done. A bit more research, a few more links, and I can add it in.

Doing another proofread of the SAVASANA AT SEA manuscript, and then I’ll put in all the extras, and of it goes to the editor and publisher for its final tweaks. I had hoped to get the entire manuscript re-proofed, along with doing the front matter and the website matter and the series bible information, but it’s slow going when it’s all in tandem. Still, it’s easier and more efficient than doing multiple passes.

I’m also irritated because changes I’ve made multiple times in the manuscript didn’t save properly, and I keep having to go back and put them in again.

Now, while I’m in the throes of DHARMA, I want to outline the whole book, so when it comes back up in the writing queue, I haven’t lost the energy and momentum I’ve built doing the first chapter.

Worked on material for the Nautical Namaste website, too. I still have a couple of pieces for PLAYING THE ANGLES to add over the next couple of weeks on the Coventina Circle website, but I also wanted to get the Nautical Namaste website up to speed.

Also got a bit over 3K written on THE MARRIAGE GARDEN. Pretty soon, I have to stop and type up what I have, or I’ll never catch up. I like working in longhand for this particular book.

Reading Steinbeck’s journal, I got irritated that the person he wrote the journal TO — I don’t remember if it was his agent or editor — Steinbeck expected this individual to provide him with boxes of pencils and the notebooks to write the book! That struck me as typically entitled male — a woman would just go out and buy the supplies her own damn self. It’s not like he couldn’t afford it at the time. It irked me.

Read Claire Tomalin’s biography of Katherine Mansfield. I admire some of her writing, but everything I learn about her makes me glad I never knew her. (Not that I was even alive when she was). Nasty piece of work.

I believe in putting one’s art first, but I don’t believe in being horrible to other people, on the pretext of being an “artist”. Most of the best at their art and craft I’ve known over the years are also decent human beings.

It begs the interesting question of where does one draw the line between protecting oneself to do one’s art and engaging with the world? Because there are always parasites who prey on artists, and it’s important not to let them feed off one. At the same time, when people are kind to one and help one, showing basic human courtesy in return isn’t too much to ask.

So, out of the nasty human beings who created beautiful art/music/literature, whose work would we have been better without?

I don’t have the answers, but when I have a few extra minutes not on deadline and am reading biographies of other artists, I sometimes like to ponder the question.

Sunday was also spent getting the plants we’d sheltered against the house back out, and putting out the tomatoes, etc. that we’d taken inside back out. The geraniums got infested with something nasty, so we’re trying to save them. Have to wash and disinfect a few things.

Some of what we took in will stay in; some we will slowly wash over the next few weeks and put away. The tomatoes still need sun so they can ripen.

I have to oil the teak furniture before it comes in. That always takes a few days, and it’s better to do when it’s drier, not so humid.

Lots to do today, catching up on the time lost in this meeting. Long list. Then, back to the manuscript to finish the proofread. I’ve got some articles and essays to work on this week, and some pitches to get out.

Let’s hope this is a great and productive week for all of us!

Published in: on September 25, 2017 at 10:09 am  Comments Off on Mon. Sept. 25, 2017: Writing Weekend  
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Inspiration from Place #UpbeatAuthors

Note: This was a previously-committed to post for the #upbeatauthors group. If you want to read about my response to Hurricane Harvey, it is the post above this one. I am not ignoring the suffering.

Trish Milburn‘s topic for the day is “Places that Inspire”. That covers a lot of ground. I can find ANY place I visit inspiring. I keep detailed travel journals when I go anywhere, and write up the details, especially sensory details. I collect maps and historical information. I collect contact information for chambers of commerce and tourism boards, so when I write about a place, I can go back and get the emotional geography correct.

Because setting is a character in my work (and I teach courses on it), it’s important to me to get the physical and emotional geography of a place correct. I’m pretty good at discerning when an author hasn’t visited a place and hasn’t done enough research to understand its unique feel/personality. Yes, it’s fiction, and it’s important to use imagination. But, if you are going to use a real place, or do what I call “stretching geography”, where you add the fictional places that support your story into a real environment, you need to get the physical and the sensory details right.

That’s a lecture for another day. 😉

For today, I am going to share with you some of the places that have inspired specific pieces of work. I’m having trouble posting photographs, but clicking through the links will get you all kinds of great images and information.

New York City
I grew up in a suburb of New York City, and spent plenty of time there. After a year of college elsewhere, I transferred back to NYU for film and television production, and then, after two years in San Francisco and a miserable year in Seattle, I moved back and worked my way up in theatre until I worked on Broadway. I loved the city, especially Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History, the various New York Public Libraries, NYU itself, and all the neighborhoods. I lived through 9/11, in which 42 people I knew (firefighters, mostly, and cops, and people I’d gone to school with who worked in the towers). New York is an important part of my work.

It’s the primary setting for the Nina Bell Mysteries, which are in the 1990s, following a college graduate trying to build her life in the arts. She lives on E. 6th Street, and is an NYU alum, and works at theatres similar to the Public. I use my diaries from those years to make sure I have the geography right, and the events and how they affected those of us trying to ignore said events.

It’s where TRACKING MEDUSA, the first Gwen Finnegan mystery starts and ends. The book starts in the Gramercy Park area, and has major events at the main New York Public Library and a chase scene inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
(The book re-releases in January 2018. Visit http://gwenfinneganmysteries.devonellingtonwork.com for more information).

PLAYING THE ANGLES, the first Coventina Circle mystery, releasing on October 2, takes places in various NYC locations, most of it in the Broadway neighborhood, since much of the action takes place backstage on a Broadway show. So that’s midtown. I used to live in the area, on the corner of 42nd St. and 8th Avenue, over a strip club which is now a comedy club, across from the Port Authority bus terminal, and a short walk to the Broadway theatres at which I worked. I’d regularly walk back from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, so I could spend time in Central Park. ANGLES also has scenes in Greenwich Village and Morag’s Upper West Side apartment. The second book in the series, THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY is mostly set in Greenwich village, around the publisher for whom Bonnie works, and the bookshop that Rupert owns, with forays to the Upper West Side and down to the Bowery. Most of the books in the series will have NYC locations, although I plan to get them out of the city at times! (http://www.coventinacircle.devonellingtonwork.com)

SAVASANA AT SEA, the first Nautical Namaste Mystery that releases in November, starts in New York City, at Union Square, where yoga studios have bloomed in the last few years. It also has locations at the cruise ship piers, and Sophie shares a brownstone in Brooklyn, inspired by one owned by a friend of mine.

I love the city deeply; I just don’t want to live there any more!

SCOTLAND
I have a deep love of Scotland. Two of my shows have been produced at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and I lived in Edinburgh for a month at a time with each. I’ve visited the city frequently, and travelled a good deal throughout the country: St. Andrews, Skye, the borders, but especially Ayrshire, where I’ve rented an apartment in Culzean Castle through the Scottish National Trust a couple of times.

The area is amazing — friendly people, beautiful scenery, great food. A basic conversation in passing can be the seed of a story.

A big chunk of TRACKING MEDUSA is set in a fictional town in Ayrshire, not far from Culzean, where Gwen and Justin confront Gwen’s past and discover the secrets of the Medusa statue.

Eastern and Western Scotland are very different from each other, in atmosphere, in geography, in sensory detail. The jet stream allows Culzean to grow tropical plants. The coast around St. Andrews can’t mistaken for the isle of Arran in the west. And the Highlands are a world unto themselves (not to mention that the signs are in Scots Gaelic first and sometimes English underneath). Someone from Glasgow speaks differently than someone from Edinburgh than someone from Skye. The cadence is difference, the timbre is different. Yes, there’s a “Scottish” accent different from English or Welsh or Irish, but there are also regional differences within it. Each one is delightful in its own way, but easy to pick up a false ring in a piece.

It’s very obvious when a writer sets something in Scotland and has never visited — it comes across more like a Rennfaire in upstate New York than genuinely in Scotland.

Northumbria
This is Hotspur Percy country, which is why I originally visited when I first graduated high school, and I keep coming back. The border shifted — it’s England, it’s Scotland, it’s England, it’s Scot– you get the idea.

Northumbrians have a thick north England accent, thicker than Yorkshire, but different from Scotland. They are very proud of their area.

My favorite places are Alnwick (now famous because the castle is used for Hogwarts) and Alnmouth. But my ultimate favorite is Lindisfarne, Holy Island, still cut off by the tide twice a day.

Lindisfarne has the ruins of a Priory, where illuminated manuscripts were created, and a castle. Two hotels, several pubs and shops, holiday cottages, a few people, a lot of sheep. When the tourists leave and the tide comes in, and it’s cut off, it’s magic.

I first learned about Lindisfarne when I was a kid, reading HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHILDREN magazine, when they had a story about monks saving the illuminated manuscripts. I vowed to visit, and did, right after high school. I can’t stay away. I have photographs that show the erosion of the ruins over the years.

A section of TRACKING MEDUSA is set there, at some of my favorite places, including the Abbey, the beach, and the kilns.

I’ve also visited the battle site of Otterburn. It was autumn when I was there; no one else around. I walked through the darkening woods, it got quieter and the birds stopped chirping. You could feel the weight of the dead. I had similar sensations when visiting Glencoe and Culloden in Scotland, but because Otterburn is smaller, more isolated, and more overgrown, it stayed with me more strongly.

Prague
Prague is an amazing city, centuries of history handled like they happened last week.

Locals sigh and talk about how nothing has been the same since The Battle of the White Mountain. I thought that was in WWII, and understood how it could still have an impact. Then I looked it up at it was in 1620! That gives you a good sense of the emotional geography of the place.

One also always has the sense of being watched. It’s not “Big Brother” or left over from Soviet occupation. It’s all the statues on the roofline that stare down at you.

I plan to use Prague as a setting for several pieces, but it’s in an upcoming serial novel about filming a television show, and part of the pilot is shot in Prague. There’s a lovely sequence on the Charles Bridge between Old Town and Mala Strana, because it’s so different on either side of the bridge.

Cape Cod
One of the reasons I moved here is because the place inspired me so much. My family’s visited since 1968. The National Seashore at Eastham and Race Point Beach in Provincetown are two big favorites, as is the Aschumet Sanctuary with all its holly trees, closer to where I actually live.

I’ve set a lot of pieces on Cape Cod. Morag’s family has a house here in PLAYING THE ANGLES. I’ve used it in quite a few short stories, and in an upcoming novel called THE TIE-CUTTER (Ayrshire, Scotland, is also heavily involved, as is Iceland).

Living here and visiting are very different, so I encourage any author who writes about the place to do more than a flying visit, if you expect me to believe your characters are more than summer people! No matter how many years I live here, I will always be a washashore, which is fine with me. It’s also a term I’d never heard in all the years I visited, but everyone made it clear to me once I moved in!

Any place can provide inspiration, if you look for it. Take time and get to know your home region. When you travel, don’t just post on social media and take video with your phone — experience the place directly, and then it will resonate in your writing.