Posted in Monday Blog

My Summer Vacation Into The Past

FBdragonpuppetFBrenfairsignThis summer, as we did last year, my family and I ventured upstate to the New York Renaissance Faire. This event, that takes place weekends August through early October, features costumed actors portraying royalty and noble persons of the Renaissance age. My daughter, a big fan of cosplay and anime, had a terrific time. She purchased a dragon puppet she’d had her eye on last summer and two new swords.

FBgamingglenFBdebbiedartsWe all enjoyed the gaming glen where we each tried our hands at games of skill. I won the dart toss and was awarded a stuffed dragon. I also took the paddleboat ride FBdebbiehollyboatswith Holly who suggested we go on it again this year. Our 10-minute loop around the lake guarded by a sea monster turned into a longer voyage because boat #3 did not return to the dock after being called several times. Afterwards, Holly took our photo crossing the “Kissing Bridge.” FBkissingbridge


FBkoipond2016-08-28 10.30.21

After our day’s sojourn at the Faire, we rested back at our hotel, the Crowne Plaza in Suffern, New York. This hotel, suited for business as well as family travel, boasts a beautiful koi pond full of fish in its lobby and a nice restaurant.

FBprintshopFBmastadonThe following day, we visited several attractions in the Monroe/Chester area. We toured Museum Village first. This site features costumed players–craftspeople of the 1800’s. My daughter was able to create a print in the print shop and make a candle in the candle shop. She also ground some mint in the pharmacy and observed a broom being made. In the natural history museum shop, she saw a Mastadon.

FBcrystalstoreFBpracticalmagicjulescatAfter Museum Village, we headed to Sugar Loaf Village, an arts and crafts village where local artisans sell many interesting wares. Holly was enthralled with the crystal shop where she purchased some special stones and the Practical Magic Shop where she met Jules, the black cat, and bought a few items.

FBcastlefuncenterFBfuncenterarcadeOur last stop was the Castle Fun Center where Holly spent most of her time in the arcade and attempting to earn a high score in the laser maze and laser tag areas.

Like all vacations, time and money went too fast, but we had a great time spending both.

Posted in A Stone's Throw, Authors, Location

How to Travel Like a Writer

De Louise Family at Kykuit
De Louise Family on Vacation

I recently returned from a long weekend in Westchester with my family. The main purpose of our trip was to attend the New York Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo, New York. My ten-year old daughter was excited to attend this annual summer weekend event, and I thought she would also enjoy touring some of the mansions and historical sites in the Hudson Valley as well as LEGOLAND in Yonkers included in our hotel package.

Although I was only in the early stages of pre-editing my forthcoming novel, “A Stone’s Throw,” I decided to put it on hold along with my other writing as I took a break to spend time with my family on vacation. I didn’t realize that, as a writer, you really can’t take a break from writing. I found inspiration everywhere on our trip. I took a few notes, but mostly the ideas just filled my mind waiting to escape on paper or the computer screen for future projects.

Statue at Kykuit
Statue at Kykuit

Our first stop after arriving in Westchester was at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow. We purchased tickets for a tour of Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate, that was accessible only by bus. It was a beautiful sunny day, and the views of the Hudson River were breathtaking. The estate grounds were filled with fountains, statues, and flowers. I took photos with my phone but also with my mind. The images became story ideas I hope to use one day.

blogtravelpic5 That evening, we drove some twisty roads to the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers where we viewed various types of art and attended a sky show in their planetarium. I found the information about the summer skies, constellations, and history of the planets added fodder for writing.

Human Chessboard Area at NY Renaissance Faire
Human Chessboard Area at NY Renaissance Faire

The following day, we left Westchester County and drove to the Renaissance Faire in Sterling Forest. We walked through the gates meeting costumed members of the royal court. The Tudor structures resembling olde England contained food stalls, shops, and activity areas. The road signs directed us to such quaint locations as the Gaming Glen, Mystic Waye, and Swan’s Landing. My daughter purchased a silver dragon statue and necklace at one stand, had her face painted as a dragon, and even got elf ears. After watching the human chess tournament, she picked up a wooden sword at another booth. We paddled around the lake in pedal boats and encountered a sea monster. The dungeon museum housed in a castle featured a history of torture exhibit appropriate for adults and older children. My husband enjoyed reading about and viewing the penalty for being a nagging wife. It was a fun family day and one that got me itching to write.

Washington Irving's Sunnyside
Washington Irving’s Sunnyside

The highlight of the trip for me was the tour of Sunnyside, author Washington Irving’s home in Tarrytown. We were lucky enough to end up with a private tour by a lady dressed in historical garb. She was full of details about Irving and his writing. As I walked through the small home and saw the rooms where Irving lived and composed many of his works, I could well imagine writing in that cozy setting by the river.

Legoland Statue of Liberty
LEGOLAND Statue of Liberty

LEGOLAND seemed geared toward younger children than my daughter, but the one room that included  Lego “sculptures” of the Statue of Liberty, Manhattan buildings, bridges, and ballparks was amazing. The 4D movie was short but cute.


Our last stop before heading home was to Lyndhurst, the previous home of Jay Guild, that is now part of the Historical Trust. The tour guide was an older gentleman who gave a great tour that included interaction with the tour members. Another mansion set near the Hudson River on acres of land, housed in a gothic castle-like structure, retained much historical detail and art. My mind, filled with historical trivia and ornate images, was ready to pen another article or story.

If you like to write, travel can open up many doors in your imagination. You don’t need to pack anything extra. You only need to concentrate and feel with all your senses the places you visit, the things you see, and the new facts you learn. By absorbing these details, you can create unique and vivid works. Even if you aren’t a writer, by traveling like one, you will enjoy the experience so much more.


Posted in A Stone's Throw, Characters, Location

It’s all in the Location

mappic Have you ever read a book where you felt like you were transported to the place where it was set? Some people enjoy reading about certain areas before they travel there themselves. Others, are armchair travelers, who enjoy reading about faraway places they will never see in person. In my book, “A Stone’s Throw,” I have created a fictional, small upstate New York town called Cobble Cove populated by mostly middle aged and older residents. Alicia Fairmont, the book’s librarian protagonist, is only in her early forites, and her love interest, John McKinney, is forty-five. The library’s director, Sheila Whitehead, is a young grandmother in her early fifties. Mac, John’s father, is a spry but forgetful eighty-year old.

The town, built around a green, features shops owned and run by Cobble Cove residents – Irene, the gift shop owner; Duncan, the grocer; Camille, the bank teller; Ed, the postmaster; Wilma, the hairdresser; Claire, the baker; Dora the innkeeper, and Casey, the diner owner. There is also a special spot in town known as Cove Point that looks down upon the green on one side and the waters of the cove on the other.  It’s where John and Alicia have their first innocent romantic encounter.

Of course, one must not forget the library that was built over a century ago when the town was founded. The library is the focal point of the book.

As I am beginning the pre-edits of the novel, I am suggesting that a map of Cobble Cove be included. Would this make things easier to visualize? Thank you for any comments you’d like to post about this idea on the blog.