You never know where or when inspiration might strike, but I wasn't finding it back at the keyboard in my cozy yellow cottage, It was challenging to pen scenes for my beachy rom com while toiling in my office wrapped in a lap blanket, my portable heater blasting.
Sure, I could use my imagination to crank out chapters. Instead, I told myself beach living was much the same in every season and headed to the coastal village of Beaufort, North Carolina, for a wintry weekend. Despite below-freezing temperatures, I discovered delicious tidbits to make my summertime tale come alive.
So slip on your warmest coat (that sea wind is cold!), and join me on a photo walk in search of literary insights. We’ll explore deserted beaches, find fun at the North Carolina Aquarium, and wander the garden of an 18th-century Beaufort home.
1. Winter Beach
Horizons that stretch forever
Some things never change at the shore, and, my imagination shifts into overdrive the moment my ratty beach-walking shoes hit the sand. I'm already spinning ideas from this jaunt into my summertime rom com.
There are a few noticeable differences in a winter beach, however ...
... miles of deserted shoreline
... with only a few hardy (crazy?) souls
... ready to brave
My novel incorporates a fictionalized version of the Point, a pristine, uninhabited patch of heaven on the western tip of Oak Island, North Carolina. Without giving anything away, I'm plotting a bit of controversy about this space that puts my City Gal and Island Guy at odds with each other.
2. Gardens of Historic Homes
The gardener in me ...
falls in love with Beaufort’s lush gardens, with their cozy benches, potted pretties, and meandering paths tucked into small spaces throughout the village's six-block historic district. (btw, my protagonist's BFF lives in an old Victorian in my fictionalized version of Beaufort.)
Beaufort even has its own distinctive style of pointy picket fences that wrap many homes and gardens. Those white pickets of varying heights remind me of cresting ocean waves.
I decide to add a Beaufort-style picket fence outside my protagonist's bungalow.
The writer in me ..
is over the moon because these emerald jewels shout ideas for my novel. When the current owners of the 244-yo Rumley House graciously open their gardens to Hub and I for a close-up stroll, my imagination and gardener's heart soar.
Can't you just picture the intimate conversation my characters will have in a romantic garden nook?
Not sure how it will play out yet,
but I must write a scene
where my characters gather
under a magnificent 200-yo live oak.
Maybe they'll share secrets in that private space?
Confess tender feelings?
Or a bird poops on them?
It is a rom com, after all <wink>.
3. North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores
One of my characters spends much of her time at the fictional Gull Island Aquarium, so my
visit to the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is another gift to my writerly muse.
I almost roll up my sleeves at the aquarium's touch tank because my characters have a light-hearted encounter there, and I want to experience it.
But I chicken out when those beady-eyed creatures glide by me. I can not bring myself to tap a squishy sting ray.
Could you tap a ray with two fingers on its fin?
Sting Rays, touch tank, NC Aquarium
I’m bringing back a sea turtle team
from my children's book,
Sweet T and the Turtle Team,
but with a playful, romantic twist
for grown-up readers.
The over-sized ceramic turtle
in the aquarium's children's area is pure fun
to climb upon.
Don't be surprised if you discover a scene in my novel with a critter very similar to this fella.
Literary inspiration aside ...
being inside the North Carolina Aquarium
on a cold winter afternoon
is magical in every way!
Jelly fish, crabs & colorful fish - NC Aquarium,
Over to You
Thanks for keeping me company as I discover literary inspiration in amazing places on the wintry North Carolina coast. (Hey, have any ideas for fun scenes for my book from our stroll you care to share? I'd love to hear them!)
This trip fuels me forward as I aim to break 30K words on my rom com in the next 30 days. Cross your fingers for me?
If you’ve been to a winter beach, what was your experience like? Where’s your dream spot for a perfect cold-weather escape? What places have you visited that you can imagine as the romantic setting for a novel? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.
Photos: by Cat Michaels
Blogging about books, writing, family life, travel and more good stuff.