This past weekend I took a couple of days away from editing gigs to take part in some fun activities. Saturday, we drove down to the hills about an hour south of home, met some friends at a state park, and went to winery. Good fun, good fellowship, and pretty darn good wine. The trip was even more fun because pal Moe (that's her over on the left--gorgeous smile, eh?) is not only a great friend, but she's also a fan and graciously pimps my books whenever she gets the chance. A glass of wine gave me the courage to introduce myself to potential readers at the winery, shamelessly pass out swag, and by golly, even sell a few books!
Sunday, we celebrated my mother-in-law's ninetieth birthday with a family dinner that included cake and gifts and singing. She's kind of a shy person, so being surrounded by family--in person and on FaceTime--seemed a touch overwhelming for her. But she got a giant kick out of seeing Grandboy onscreen all the way from the West Coast and hearing him call her "Grandma Great." She smiled, watching while Sister PJ and I tried not to drop the iPhone into a pan full of butternut squash risotto. We were showing it to master chef Son--getting his thoughts on whether we should go sweet or savory with the dish. (Sweet won because I didn't have any Penzey's 4S.)
All this got me to thinking about writing (I know, I know, everything makes me think about writing...) and how we bring our everyday life into our stories. For instance, Liz's characters are often quilters and tea drinkers--two thing I always associate with Liz's real life. My characters are wine drinkers and need to be near the lake (sound familiar?). As a matter of fact, the winery really got me to thinking about the current WIP--the next Women of Willow Bay book, where the heroine is a winemaker who lives near Lake Michigan. I took mental notes as we sat and sipped, paying close attention to the ambiance of the winery and how the winemaker interacted with her customers. Yeah, that'll probably help me create the winery scenes in Tessa and Jack's story. (See what I did there? A little hint about the new book...)
Sunday's birthday party got me to thinking about women who have lived long lives--like my mother-in-law. A story has been brewing about a woman who inherits a house from her aunt, who was quite elderly when she passed away, maybe even older than anyone ever imagined... (Yep, see? I did it again...) After everyone left, I grabbed my notebook to scribble some quick thoughts about my mother-in-law, words that described her demeanor and her reactions. She won't be in the story, of course, but she'll help me create Aunt Anna...