Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Places that Inspire

This is release day for FIRST COME TWINS, the first in my new Mirabelle Island Superromance series. It's Sophie and Noah's story, high school sweethearts whose lives took unexpected paths.

Noah couldn't stay on Mirabelle. And Sophie couldn't leave.

Noah becomes a photojournalist and travels the world covering war torn regions. He's running from his mistakes, but when he's injured while embedded with the military, the only safe place to heal is Mirabelle.

While his homecoming brings more than a few surprises for Noah, one constant remains. Sophie, now a mother of twin teenagers, is entrenched as ever in island life. And she'll do whatever it takes to get Noah off her island. Before the only man she's ever loved breaks her heart all over again.

It's a story about a second chance at love, and I honestly didn't know how it was going to end until I got there! But I can tell you this, it's impossible to talk about this series without talking about what first inspired me to write these books.

Mirabelle Island, the setting for my next four books, while a figment of my imagination was very much inspired by places I've been. It's a conglomeration of camping trips to Minnesota's great neighboring state, Wisconsin, and a family vacation to Michigan's Mackinac Island.

There's something about getting out of Dodge that frees the creative juices. It could be the horse drawn carriages and virgin forests. Cobblestone streets and historic lighthouses. Homemade fudge and sailboats. Fireworks and ferry rides over the big waters of Lake Superior. Maybe it's the kayaking, salmon fishing or beach volleyball. Then again, it could be the stormy nights and waves crashing against rocky shorelines.

All I know is that Mirabelle's heroes and heroines are people I've come to love. They're passionate, sometimes secretive men and women who've come to Mirabelle either to hide or heal. The last thing they're expecting--or want--is to fall in love.

Mirabelle's quaint, but so far it ain't so quiet. The secondary characters are colorful, salt of the earth people who protect their own and aren't afraid to rock the boat a bit.

As I write the fourth story in this series, I find myself ready for another trip to Wisconsin. Good thing we have one planned. But that's a topic for another day!

Tell us about your favorite place or places. Vacations, weekends away. What inspires or recharges you?

I'm giving away three copies of FIRST COME TWINS (along with the cool bookmarks I blogged about last month) to celebrate release day!

Happy travels!
Helen

48 comments:

lois greiman said...

Helen, congrats on your new release. I love your bookmarks.

As for me, I'm heading out to the Black Hills of SD again to photograph wild horses...I hope...and refresh my soul.

Cindy Gerard said...

Hi Helen. VBG on your new release!! The cover is just beautiful.

My fav vacation is right where I am now. Up at the cabin in Minnesota. Love the wilderness, being around the water and chillin' with family and friends.

GunDiva said...

Helen, congrats on your new release! It sounds like the perfect reading get-away. I love books that I can pick up and escape into and Mirabelle Island sounds like just the perfect place.

Helen Brenna said...

Yep, Lois, I've been to the Black Hills, too, and that is an inspiring place. Photographing wild horses sounds perfect!

Cindy, a cabin is a perfect getaway!

Thanks, GunDiva!

Lori said...

Congrats on the new release! I love reunited lovers stories!

My favorite getaway is a beach getaway - any beach, LOL. I'm such a sun worshipper. If I can just bask in the sun for a few hours a day and do nothing, I feel recharged.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Lois, I'm doing a series based on the SD wild horse sanctuary--probably the one you're visiting! I'm just finishing up the second one.

Helen, FIRST COME TWINS sounds like my kid of story, and I love the cover.

We had a spot we loved on the FL panhandle--Henderson Inn in Destin. It was sold to condo developers. Very sad. It was a B&B and the white quartz sand on that beach, the turquoise Gulf--so relaxing.

Also love Victoria BC. Glorious gardens.

Kylie said...

Congrats, Helen! The new release sounds great!

I love to relax with family, so whether it's tailgating or vacationing or hanging out at their places, those are my favorite times.

This summer we took the fam to the Outer Banks, NC and rented a beach house 1/2 mile off the beach. It had a nice pool and all my siblings and their families were nearby in rented houses too. That was so much fun and hugely relaxing. I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

Helen Brenna said...

Lori, me and beaches have a love hate relationship. I love 'em. They hate me. Fair skin and a childhood allergy to sunscreens kinda set the tone! Although I have noticed that the sunscreens are so good these days that I can be in the sun and not break out.

Helen Brenna said...

Kathy, as I was writing this blog I thought of a trip we made to Victoria Island. That's another place that did help inspire Mirabelle.

And I'm so glad people are liking this cover. I think it's my fav so far!

Helen Brenna said...

Kylie, I've heard the Outer Banks are beautiful. Would love to do that some day!

april said...

I actually saw this book being promoted at the SuperRomance party at RWA. It looked great great! Reading more about the plot sucks me in as well.

My family is an East Coast family. We often vacationed on Cape Cod, but we love Maine. My grandparents have 2 cottages up there about 2 blocks from the beach. Now, we only go every other year, but the rest of my family goes every year for some 4-generational fun (last night's fun included Hurricanes and that's the last thing my mom remembers). The husband's family vacations in Wildwood, NJ which is where we are going this month. We take turns vacationing with each other's parents. One day, we swear, we're taking a vacation without a set of parents. It's just hard because everyone wants time with the granddaughter.

Spent an obscenely hot summer in MN and WI one year. I'd love to read more about the area (while in air conditioning).

catslady said...

I got to travel when first married (we waited 15 years before having kids) and although we enjoyed many places, our one cruise was my all time favorite. You can do as much as you want or absolutely nothing. You don't have to bother carting luggage around and the food is always fantastic. You can stay on the ship or get off and do the tourist thing or find out of the way places. I'm hoping some day to get another chance!

Debra Dixon said...

Sounds like a great book, Helen.

Love the cover of course.

I've always loved the thought of going off to an island for an annual vacation. I have some friends who do that and the stories are just heavenly. Something about the pace of an island that is so different!

Helen Brenna said...

So cool you were at the Super party at RWA, April! I sent a couple books for the gift bags. Sounds like it was fun.

I've been to Cape Cod once. It was April, so not the best of weather. I always wanted to go back some time in the summer. And, yep, MN and WI can get terribly hot and humid in the summer. Not so much on Lake Superior, though. That big body of water keeps it cool.

Helen Brenna said...

Catslady, I'm scared to death of going on a cruise. I get motion sickness just thinking about it. People say big ships are different, but I'm not sure I believe it! lol

Helen Brenna said...

Deb, I think there is something different about island life. Close knit. Slower pace. When I think of how many times I run to Target every week, an island starts to sound very nice!

Laney4 said...

Congrats on your release today! Sounds like a great story and I'm looking forward to reading it!
As for vacations, we always visit family 2000+ miles away. When with them, THEN we go to the mountains, museums, libraries, skating, swimming, skating, amusement parks, play tennis, do jigsaw puzzles, play boardgames, go geocaching, etc. We always have a blast sharing all these adventures -- even today when I'm the youngest of our generation at 50 and my bro-in-law is the eldest at 72. Yes, our adults kids join us too, but I find it amazing that we're still having a blast, always trying to combine exercise with fun!

Helen Brenna said...

Laney4, you've described what sound like wonderful vacations. I'm curious, though. Who plans these trips? Do you guys take turns or do you have a sibling or in-law that simply loves organizing things?

I Heart Book Gossip said...

My favorite recharging place would have to be the beach. Besides the serenity and the peaceful setting, I love the water.

Please count me in.

cindyc725 at gmail dot com

GunDiva said...

There is a lake in the Wild Basin area of RMNP that is the perfect mixture of beach and mountain, called Sand Beach Lake. It's a fairly strenuous hike or horseback ride, but well worth it. The lake is like God just dropped a sandy beach right on top of the mountain. The water is far too cold to be in since it's glacier run-off, but the sand is as soft as I've ever found and the lake is completely hidden by the forest.

I've only been there once, but took enough pictures that when I need an escape,I just put it up on my screen and dream away...

Helen Brenna said...

You're in Cindy, I Heart Book Gossip!

So many places to see, GunDiva. You had me almost drooling to see that lake!

chey said...

Helen, congrats on your new release!
The most inspiring pplace I've been to is Newfoundland. There is so much to see (Ocean, mountains, flatlands, fjords +++) and do in a relatively small space.

GunDiva said...

Oh, Newfoundland. Love to go there. You're right Helen, so many places to see.

Too bad we can't post pics here, I'd put up a pic of Sand Beach Lake.

Laney4 said...

You asked, "... Who plans these trips? Do you guys take turns or do you have a sibling or in-law that simply loves organizing things?"

Well ... my sister and her husband visit us in Ontario every two or three years for a week or two or three or more, as they have a motor home and use our place as a home base between visits with various outlying family members and friends. When we know they are coming, we get the puzzles and games ready for passing the evening hours. I win local radio contests and set aside the (no expiry) restaurant gift certificates for when they are here. I scan the Internet and local papers for "things to do" all year long and discuss the possibilities with them when they arrive. We have attended a corn maze, a farming museum, some national parks, a couple of chocolate factories (need I say more?), some wineries (great free samples), a distillery, the local libraries (of course) for early morning/nighttime reading material, a 1917 estate (with indoor bowling alley and one of the first indoor pools), floral gardens, and so much more.

When we have visited them in Saskatchewan or Alberta, we have toured underground bootlegging tunnels (in Moose Jaw's downtown area), visited several museums, enjoyed amusement parks (especially at West Edmonton Mall, the biggest mall in the world), seen movies at IMAX theatres, driven around checking out Christmas lights and decorations (both professional and residential), enjoyed local beaches, toured Lake Louise and the rest of Banff, camped throughout British Columbia, took down trees in BC's mountains, watched professional and school theatre productions, took in Stars on Ice, checked out various restaurants, walked at the local gym in inclement weather, gone geocaching, gone swimming in various pools with and without slides, and again the list can go on and on. My sister's daughter helps with planning that itinerary, as she has the children now, but we all have a hand in it!

Whenever our husbands have changed jobs, we try to arrange a "plant tour" at the new job sites. That has always been interesting too.

Thanks for asking! I hope these have given you ideas for entertainment in your own neck of the woods!

Janga said...

I'm not much for sun and sand. I prefer the mountains. A friend has a cabin in the Smokies that's one of my favorite spots. Going there gives me lots of time to sit on the deck and think and write and lots of time for good conversation with people I love. I call that perfection.

GunDiva said...

Laney4, you're amazing! I can't believe all of the things you've organized. I want to join your family and go to all those cool vacations.

Maureen said...

Congratulations Helen on your new book! One of the most enjoyable things for me is to have a day where I don't have to do anything and I can do whatever I want.

Helen Brenna said...

Thanks Chey! Newfoundland. The closest I've been is Nova Scotia. More places to see.

GunDiva - do you have a website? Post a link her in a comment.

Helen Brenna said...

Wow, Laney, very creative thinking. Sounds like everyone has a hand in the planning pie!

Janga, sadly, we have no mountains in MN. :( In my dreams, I imagined owning a mountain cabin, a lake place and a sea villa. Too much to ask?

Helen Brenna said...

Thanks, Maureen, and I hear you about the staying at home and doing nothing.

Anyone got any tricks up their sleeves for turning a blind eye to all the work that needs to get done around the house?

tetewa said...

Congrats on the release! My favorite places for vacations are places with bodies of water, as I love to swim and lay out in the sun!

EllenToo said...

First let me say that I don't want to be entered to win the book because I already have it. But a cool bookmark would be ok LOL.
Anyway my favorite vacation spots are out National Parks. I've been to Yellowstone three times and I always discover something new to see. I've been to Glacier National Park and stared in awe at all the wonderful sites including frozen waterfalls. I've actually been to about half of all the Parks in the US and am looking forward to seeing more.

GunDiva said...

Helen et al, I've posted Sand Beach pics on my blog, gundiva(dot)blogspot(dot)com.

As for turning a blind eye on the work that needs to be done - find a relatively clean corner to curl up in, open a book, escape. Easy as pie!

Liza said...

Congrats on your new release Helen! My favorite vacation spots are the beach and Chicago. I love to kick back and read on the beach under an umbrella(or I'd be a lobster). The sea air clears up my allergies and I love to eat fresh seafood. I go to Chicago to shop, visit friends, and just enjoy all that is Chicago.

Helen Brenna said...

tetewa, slather on that sunscreen, dollface!

Helen Brenna said...

Ellentoo, you made my day! Email me your address at helenbrenna@comcast.net and I'll send out a bookmark!

National parks are the best. I've only been to Yellowstone once and I was young. Didn't have the same appreciation as now. But I loved Yosemite and Denali in Alaska. Gorgeous. Would love to see Glacier.

Helen Brenna said...

Checked it out, GunDiva. What marvelous SAND! Beautiful! Absolutely beautiful. Reminds me a bit of a lake up in Yosemite, except for the sand.

Helen Brenna said...

Thanks, Liza. Chicago is food. Italian. Best deep dishes on the planet. Yum. Now I'm starving!!!!

Ever been to Quartino's? Love that place.

RachieG said...

I love going home to the northern counties of Illinois. Such a sense of homecoming and welcome. I live in Missouri and love it, but Illinois gives me that sense of home. :)

Congratulations on your new release!! Can't wait to check it out!!

rachie2004 @ yahoo (dot) com

Helen Brenna said...

Home is always good, RachieG!

Betina Krahn said...

Helen, congratulations on your new book! It sounds wonderful. . . and I'm guess the twins are. . .
a big part of the plot. Right?

I can't wait to pick it up! Four books? Girl, no wonder you've been shy around here sometimes. You've been writing your fingers to the bone! Cut it out. You're makin' the rest of us look bad.
::grin::

Amy Kathryn said...

My favorite easy getaway is Atlanta and my favorite have to have time and money getaway is Paris.

Unfortunately, I am very good at ignoring things that need to be done around the house and zoning out with a good book or the computer!

flchen1 said...

Favorite places? Wherever our good friends are :) Those are the getaways I enjoy the most. I do also love seeing other parts of the world, so we've gotten to travel parts of Asia with the kids, and it's been exciting (though not terribly relaxing). Congrats on First Comes Twins! Mirabelle sounds like a great place to visit!

Laurie said...

A pretty place to camp and visit right along the shoreline of Lake Michigan is Point Beach State Forest /Two Rivers, Wisconsin. There is a 5 mile bike trail- south, right along the shoreline connecting Two Rivers to Manitiwoc (which has the Cobra Submarine tours, ferry to Ludington, Michigan and Bernstein's chocolates!). You can also take the bike trail about 5 miles north and trek through the Point Beach State Forest and see the Rawley's Point Lighthouse. The campgrounds are within walking distance to the dunes. Lake Michigan can be quite chilly but refreshing! Bring jackets as the evenings can be cool.

Two Rivers is known for the first ice cream sundae and also has a quaint fishing village museum that you can tour for a small fee. The Lighthouse Inn is located right on the water and has good food too!.

Finally, Two Rivers has a huge beach area Nashotah Park where you can walk north for miles and miles in beautiful white sand, plenty of driftwood and gorgeous views of the water.

Helen Brenna said...

Thanks, Betina. Yeah, the twins are part of the plot, but not a big one. You know HQ and their titles. They'll look for any kind of hook!

Helen Brenna said...

Amy, I've only been to Atlanta for work, but it seemed to be the kind of city I'd love to explore. And Paris? Some day. Sigh.

Thanks flchen1! That's such a good point about being where good friends are. The people you're with can make even more of a difference than the place!

Laurie, I think I've been to Point Beach! I've camped so many places in Wisconsin it's hard to remember all of them. The dunes in Michigan are absolutely amazing! I had no clue they existed!

april said...

I loved the RWA SuperRomance party. I didn't realize how much SuperRomance I read until I went. I won the Louisiana tote bag to my big surprise.

Helen Brenna said...

That's cool, April. Congrats on winning that tote. I'm sure you'll find some wonderful books in there.