Fiction,  Setting,  The Writing Life,  Writing a Novel

Place As Inspiration

I have always found settings to be great sources of inspiration. The sweeping sense of peace exuded by the weeping willows in the Annapolis Valley inspired me to write about the tragic story buried at their roots. The historic house in Edmonton’s historic Strathcona neighbourhood, provided the perfect setting for a time-travel set in Edmonton in 1929, and getting to spend over a month living in a historic home in the upscale neighbourhood of The Glebe was the inspiration for a contemporary teen novel.

Weeping Willows, Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia
Old Strathcona, Edmonton, Alberta
The Glebe, Ottawa, Ontario

If one is observant, there is always a story to be found, always a story happening somewhere around us as we are travelling through a place, be it our home community or a place we are visiting. I love to watch and listen and wait for those little clues to appear, that lead me to a story that is lurking just under the surface, or just around the corner.

This gorgeous Island of Islay in Scotland is where the inspiration can be found for Mothers and Daughters (working title) of the story I’m beginning to play with. In 1948 a young, unmarried woman becomes pregnant and her family insists that she give her baby up for adoption. The young woman, Isabella, is put on board a ship bound for Canada, where she will stay with relatives until after the birth of the baby. Arrangements are being made in Canada, for the adoption. Isabella will travel back home to Islay as soon as possible after the birth. As far as the community knows, she is going to help a sick relative. No one need be any the wiser. It will be a closed adoption. There will never be cause for anyone to learn of the existence of the baby. At least, that is the plan.

This story will involve a few settings, but the Islay setting is where the seed is planted for the story that takes place decades later. The other settings I plan to get photos of this summer. So excited!


This was one of those weeks when everything hit at once. You know what I mean. Weeks like this are unavoidable, so no point in beating yourself up over whatever you do or don’t get accomplished. In times like this you have to look at the small wins. Most days, I kept up my Morning Pages. They continue to be an excellent source of mind-clearing and creativity. I’m amazed at the ideas that pop up on the page as my thoughts wander around. Sometimes I consider what I would like to write about in my blog. Sometimes, I have inner dialogues about my character’s personalities or a plot wrinkle I know I will need to deal with at some point. But this week, I was given additional fuel for thought and it came in the form of some very good news!

My agent got back to me with the encouraging feedback that my YA manuscript “has loads of commercial potential.” Yay! With that, of course, comes the list of suggestions to be implemented to help it reach its best potential. So exciting! Now, I am back to revisions as well as working on my new novel. The temptation is to go back to 100 % focus on the revisions, however, I don’t feel that’s best for my writing skills or my creativity. Instead, I am going to dedicated time to both aspects of the writing process. I’ll let you know how it goes!

In looking at what I posted in my previous TO DO list, I see that I was able to work on the backstory of my characters this week. Not a huge dent in the list. But the rest will come. This pre-writing stage will take me quite a while and I’m in no rush.

To Do

  1. Rewrite the opening scene of my submitted ms. to address necessary issues.
  2. Come up with solutions for other issues mentioned for submitted ms.
  3. Continue to develop backstory for characters.
  4. Finish Family tree
  5. Settle on a more specific timeline for when the story takes place.

Happy Writing! Let me know how your project is going!

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