It’s All About The Experience, Right?

California.Lake

Campsite views

Sometimes a travel idea just doesn’t work out exactly like I planned.

When my boys were little I thought it would be a great experience to go tent camping in the mountains of southern California. In my mind I had visions of campfires, hikes and relaxing by the lake.

The reality? It was over 90 degrees, our campsite was perched on the side of the mountain where the ground was so hard, my husband broke three of our tent spikes just putting up the tent. The incline of our site was so steep, if I could have found a rope to tether my kids to a tree, I would have. We couldn’t go boating on the lake BECAUSE it was 90 degrees and they only had aluminum boats for rent. Fried children on the lake – no thanks.

But it’s an experience we won’t forget.

Tubing on the Colorado River, Yuma, Arizona

Tubing on the Colorado River, Yuma Arizona

A few years later I was talked into another trip I thought my boys would love…boating on the Colorado River in Yuma Arizona.

The night we pulled into town it was 103 degrees at 8pm!

Not being a water girl, I planned to spend my days under an umbrella on the shoreline with my young daughter while the boys and hubby did their water-skiing and boating.

When the temperature climbed to 116…the water started looking good, even to me. At which point I was talked into tubing.

Another experience I won’t forget.

Whether we write small town contemporary romances, paranormals, historicals, time travels or romantic suspense, there is always an adventure to be had. There is always something that our characters experience that adds to the fabric of their backstory or their current journey toward their HEA.

Over the years I’ve touched electrified fences in Amish country (because I didn’t believe they would HAVE electrified fences!) I’ve walked down a mountain in Vermont carrying my skis after running over my husband and he had to be taken down the mountain by snow-mobile stretcher. I’ve watched my kids swim with sharks off a LaJolla cove because I was too chicken to join them. And all those memories of adventures are sitting there waiting to be used in a story somewhere.

Because life really is all about the experience.

Have a funny experience you can share with me? Your comment just might win you a free digital download from the Decadent Tease line!

 

About Debora Dennis

A believer in second chances and that time should never be an obstacle to finding love, Debora writes time travels with modern snark and spice! When she's not writing, she's spending time with her family, reading or trying to figure out a way to get chocolate into every dish she serves.

Traveling Romance

ArizonaIf you subscribe to this sort of thing, I must have been a nomad in another life. I just can’t wait to find out what’s over the next hill. Or see what the shining lights are across that stretch of plains. If I’m home too long, I get the itch to travel. I get grouchy. I feel deprived. Weird, huh?

But I never leave home without my trusty ereader loaded with my latest TBR’s. After all, there might be some down time. It would be a shame to waste it not reading.

I read my first romance at twelve. It was Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I’m fairly certain it was the first thing I read that included any descriptions of England, islands, pirates, ball gowns and the way someone else might have lived that was so different from the way I lived. It truly swept me away. I’m still awed by the work she put into her novels. Although it wasn’t written for my age group, her attention to detail, her vivid and thorough descriptions were captivating. As a published author, thinking about them still makes me go, wow!

San FranciscoAnd when I travel, I try to catch those little details that will bring my work to life. The way one small town differs from another, the way one big city is so opposite another. The architecture, the landscaping, the town squares or skyscrapers, and the accents of the citizens. I look at houses or buildings and wonder who lives or works there. I want each thread carefully woven together to resonate with readers in the same manner as hers did with me.

SONY DSCBefore I could afford to travel, I went lots of places through romance novels. People can scoff as much as they want, but if all of the writers I know are any indication, you can pretty much count on the settings being based in reality, and the details being accurate. Not that we don’t have our way with a plot thread, but it is fiction after all. When I think of reading or writing, I think of big sweeping stories, and grand adventures that change lives. But with that grand adventure, I want the details that bring the setting to life.

The novels I’ve written thus far are set in America because that’s the place I’m most familiar with. I won’t say it’s easy, but it’s comfortable. And it’s a big, diverse place. Every time I travel I come up with more ideas for stories. I’m constantly taking pictures out the car window to keep for inspiration.SONY DSC

Do you have a favorite location you enjoy reading or writing about?

Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for this month’s swag!

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in the hills of Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City, in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

Where’s your writing spot?

DSC_0149.JPGStop!

Take a deep breath.

Do you smell the air? The scent of flowers teasing your nose or maybe the aroma of barbeque floating from the nearby street stands?

Do you hear the sounds of the rolling waves? Or the toot of the ship docking by the pier?

DSC00772How about the stillness of mountains? Or do you feel the texture of sand between your toes?

Now reach for that drink…and open your eyes.

It’s amazing where your imagination may take you but wouldn’t the real thing be so much better?

I’ve traveled so much in the past few years and find that different places have sparked different ideas for my writing. No matter where I go, my imagination always brings me back to Hawaii–to the white beaches, blue waters, sweet smell of ocean air, and corn grilling on stands on the side of the road.

Depending on my mood, I always find that I write best when I can relax and push all my everyday life worries out of my mind. Yes, it may take a lot of wine for that to happen, but Hawaii has always given me that freedom to let my muse run buck wild.

I love sitting on the beach with my notebook and spending the afternoon plotting or lounging on my back porch with my laptop while I watch the sunset. Sometimes I used to walk the golf course in my backyard and count the exotic birds that would stop by or fly above my head while I’m outlining my stories in my mind (Of course, I’m running away the minute I know they see me…).

DSC01047I miss the days of peace and quiet, of being able to take the time for myself. Whether or not I’m still in Hawaii, my mind always brings me back to where I’ve found the most joy and peace.

So go on that trip you’ve always wanted to and venture to wherever your heart brings you. Experience it. Say it’s research.

Find your writing spot. Where do you envision it to be? Where do you most want to go?

Mine would have hot men climbing trees down the street…

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About Clarissa Yip

Constantly on the run, Clarissa leads the life of adventure and mischief. When she's not getting herself in trouble, she's usually busy studying the art of eating and curling up with a good book or spending numerous hours reading and writing. It's really hard to find her in one place for too long...

Guest Post — Gina Conkle

How Do You Feel About Adventures?

Years ago my oldest son asked that question while we ran errands.  He was near the end of kindergarten and summer stretched before us. But, his simple question started a family tradition that we all love — The Adventure List.

Every summer and Christmas break, our family makes a wish list of things we want to do on poster-sized paper.  Sometimes our quests are simple: see the latest superhero movie, day at the fair, or go-karts.

Once in a while, we get brave and go big.

Our latest plan?  Tallinn, Estonia for Christmas!

Maybe you’re scratching your head…Estonia-where?  Then you consult a map and see how close Estonia is to the Arctic-freakin’-Circle!

But here’s a few gems to consider:

iStock_000011311558Small-Tallinn Old Market Square decorated for Christmas*Tallinn, Estonia’s home to one of Europe’s best preserved medieval old towns.  Why not celebrate the holiday at the Christmas Market on Raekoja Plats (Town Hall Square) decorated for the season in Middle Ages style?

Tallin_Tavern*Need to keep warm? Try Black Pepper Schnapps in one of Europe’s oldest still-in-business taverns.  That ceiling? It’s over 700 years old.

*Like variety? Explore a multi-cultural mix of architecture: German built castles, Russian Onion Dome churches, and Baroque Kadriog Palace (when Peter the Great ran Estonia) all in the same city.  But, if that’s not old enough for you…

Old town of Tallinn Estonia*Talinn’s Old Town is 62 square miles of antiquity ready to be explored.  A UNESCO site, the Old Town boasts archaic shops with people still living in medieval buildings.  And the pharmacy? Opened in 1422 and famed for everything from marzipan to “powdered unicorn horn” (for male potency)! Even Russian Tsars ordered medicine from that very shop.

iStock_000004151112Small-Pepper Pot turrets, Tallinn*Do you like wi-fi and a cappuccino with your history? Tallin’s counted among the top ten digital cities in the world. You can experience the past with present comforts. While sipping your hot beverage, meander past pepper pot turrets, architecture that was all the rage in castle building from the 13th century through the Renaissance.

 

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral*But if that’s not old enough for you, learn about war-like Oeselians (Estonian Vikings) whose relics are thankfully found only in museums.  Ptolemy wrote about them in Geography III (2nd century BC), and famed Viking skald Snorri Sturluson recorded their antics in Norse Sagas.

Now, we’re getting to time periods I love.

Archaeologists recently uncovered a rich Viking grave site (a two ship burial) on the Estonian island of Saaremaa, and I plan to visit those Norse artifacts in toasty, warm Tallinn museums.

Not a bad list of offerings for a place once described by a Muslim cartographer as “a small town.”

Adventure comes in all shapes and sizes, but sometimes going off the beaten path yields the best treasures.

What’s on your Adventure List?

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19129_255294294601511_2017641803_n_(397x349)Gina’s a lover of history, books and romance, which makes the perfect recipe for historical romance writer.  Her passion for castles and old places (the older and moldier the better!) means interesting family vacations.  Good thing her husband and two sons share similar passions, except for romance…that’s where she gets the eye roll.  When not visiting fascinating places, she can be found in southern California delving into the latest adventures of organic gardening and serving as chief taxi driver.

On my website: http://ginaconkle.com/

On twitter: https://twitter.com/ginaconkle

On Facebook: http://on.fb.me/180kL1y

On Pinterest: http://bit.ly/180l9gu

~*~*~*~

Norse_Jewel-800pxDon’t miss Gina’s Latest release, Norse Jewel

A stolen woman of rare qualities…
Helena, a captive woman, wants her freedom. The Frankish maid wasn’t born a slave but marauding Danes have taken her and she’s desperate to escape their camp.  Her savior comes as a fierce Norse chieftain, Hakan, who takes her far north.

A hard Norseman who’s lived by the sword…
Hakan wants to lay down his sword and live a peaceful farmer’s life. Betrayal left him cold to other women, yet his heart thaws to clever Helena. She lures him with kindness, weaving happiness that’s short lived. Deceit and old loyalties vex the warrior, calling upon his sword arm.

A clash of cultures amidst a kingdom in transition…
War erupts…a kingdom’s in the balance. Can Hakan defend his homeland and save the woman he loves?

 

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Places Worth Writing About…

I think having visited a place can add a sense of authenticity to descriptions in a story, giving settings a vibrancy and vividness that otherwise might be lacking.

I used to love travelling and for many years we (me and my other half) would travel whenever we could, often working to save enough money and then heading off for a few months. We visited, Africa, South East Asia, India…

These days we’ve settled down on a farm in the mountains of Spain, together with a whole load of animals, which means it’s no longer possible for us to travel (at least not together—which takes the fun out of it) but I still make use of the places we visited in my stories.

We’re both sun-lovers and we usually headed for hot and exotic locations. But before moving to Spain, we lived in Scotland for four years. We did plenty of travelling around the country, and I came to love the rugged beauty of the Scottish Highlands.

For me, one of the most enjoyable ways to appreciate the countryside is to walk. I did a four-day walk, part of the West Highland Way, from Loch Lomond to Glen Nevis, with my sisters. My husband would drive to meet us at the hotel each night so we didn’t have to carry our luggage. He usually had large brandies set up on the bar to warm us up—have I mentioned it rains a lot in Scotland?

  © Copyright Pip Rolls and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

© Copyright Pip Rolls and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

We spent one very wet day hiking over Rannoch Moor, but it was worth it for the breathtaking scenery. So when I was looking for a particular type of location for a story, the moors came to mind.

My latest release, Losing Control, takes place mainly in London. But the hero and heroine do go away for a weekend (the plan being to have a weekend of wild, torrid sex, get the whole sex thing out of their systems, after which they could go back to being friends) and they wanted somewhere remote. So I took them to a romantic Scottish castle situated to the north of Rannoch moor. Needless to say, their plan didn’t quite work out.

Do you like to read or write about places you have been? Or do you prefer a whole new experience? Let me know for a chance to be entered in this month’s draw.

About Nina Croft

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain. Nina writes all types of romance often mixed with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.

The Gypsy in Me

I don’t know if I have a restless soul or if I was a gypsy in a previous life, but I love to travel.  Although the lack of a fat bank account does dampens my spirit a bit. We’ve moved quite a few times over the years and it’s the packing and unpacking that kills me…the new location, not so much.  My husband had a job welding in the construction of water towers and at first he traveled alone for months at a time.  But I was homeschooling my youngest at the time and we had the opportunity to go with my husband to a job in Louisiana.  I was in heaven.  The heat and humidity everyone griped about?  I loved it.  It was all part of the scenery.  Maybe one of the reasons I love to write is setting the scenery, immersing myself in the atmosphere and the story itself.  I was hooked and the kiddo and I went with him on several more job sites including Memphis, Tennessee, and Savannah, Georgia.  We also went to Arkansas and got caught in a massive ice storm and had to live without power, or heat, for a week.  Not something I would recommend as a vacation…but you learn to improvise and treasure the local lineman working with the power company to restore service.

Just one of the things I love about traveling is searching out the local history.  In Louisiana we made day trips to the “cities of the dead”, the famous New Orleans cemeteries.  We even followed a tour around to eavesdrop on the history of some of the tombs.  My sweet guys humored me because I could’ve spent hours walking around and my writer’s mind was definitely in high gear.  And of course we had to walk down Bourbon Street and around the French Quarter.  I still remember the melt-in-your-mouth beignets, covered in sweet powdered sugar, and the bitter, bold chicory coffee at the Café Du Monde.  I loved to strike up conversations with any local that had a Cajun accent.  They were good about sharing how to choose the freshest seafood vendors selling from ice chests along the side of the road and hole-in-the-wall restaurants with authentic Cajun food.  We also took a day to visit a couple of restored plantations and another for an alligator swamp tour for the little man.  The memories are still so vivid in our minds that we often talk about going back for a family vacation.

But I think my favorite job site of all was Savannah, Georgia.  The moss hanging from the trees, plantations from days of old, and the history surrounding us.  And we were there to participate in the famous St. Patrick’s day celebration.  We often walked through the historic district along the riverfront to watch the merchant ships and eat warm pecan pralines straight out of the copper kettles.  Well…almost straight out of the pots…they had to cool a bit first.  😉

I’d do it all over again.  The traveling, the history, the interesting people.  I’d do it for the experience, especially being able to share my love of history and culture with my guys.  My writer’s mind craves it.  One of these days…maybe I’ll take to the road again.

About Chelle Sandell

Contemporary western romance author, Chelle Sandell, was born and raised in southern Oklahoma but has mostly traded her cowboy boots in for flip-flops. That is unless her cowboy feels the occasional need to go boot scootin' across a dance floor. A foodie at heart, leaning toward the sweet treats, you can find her in the kitchen experimenting on her family and friends. She lives out in the country with her very own cowboy, rowdy boys, Hank & Lilly (blue heeler cowdogs), rescue kitties, and a hungry opossum that loves to sneak up at night to eat the cat food on the back porch.

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