Monday, November 15, 2010

Traveling with Monti

Give it up for fellow blogger, Mary Montague Sikes - also known as Monti!

Travels Make Writing More Fun

Years ago, while I was still in college, I crossed the English Channel from Dover, England to the Hook of Holland on an overnight ferry boat. The waters were dark and rough etching an unforgettable memory in my mind.

A few months ago, as I was working on my latest novel, Night Watch, I needed a dramatic and memorable scene to start the story. That’s when I recalled that strange black night on rugged seas that thundered as an old ferry boat churned its way across the channel. I began to think, what if? What if the NPR reporter, focal to my story, is traveling alone on the ferry? What if someone decides to silence her by throwing her off the ship? So my first scene was formed.

This is an example of how my travels always seem to tie into my writing. I use bits and pieces from trip memories to flesh out a story or to add extra intrigue.

A scene from an aquarium in Nassau begins a future book, Night in Paradise. That scene from my memory and from research adds color and interest to the book. The aquarium with its sea creatures becomes another character in the story just as the violent channel waters are a character in Night Watch.

Traveling is fun. Notes taken and photographs created during a trip may eventually provide needed background or focus for a new story. You never know from where your next lead will come.

Night Watch Blurb

Several years ago, my husband and I took an unforgettable trip to Trinidad. Before we left, I envisioned being part of a Bogart and Bacall movie where I might take on the glamorous façade of an old movie star by traveling in a white suit. So I tried it! That suit turned out to be inappropriate attire for the trip we made by small motorboat over a churning sea to reach Gasparee, the offshore island where our resort hotel was located. A network of dark caves with stalactites and stalagmites, located on that island, created lots of “what ifs” for me, especially when I learned of the island’s colonial history and found out the caves were once frequented by pirates who stashed their treasures there. Crossing the gulf and passing ocean-going vessels along the way made me wonder, what if Lily Henri, my heroine in Night Watch, journeyed by small boat over these waters late at night with her life in danger? What if she looked like a woman murdered in the waters of the English Channel and mistaken identity put her in danger? What if she were caught up in a gunrunning mystery and later kidnapped?

Buy Night Watch on Amazon
Visit Mary Montague Sikes at her WEBSITE and BLOG
Watch the trailer for Night Watch at PhotoShow

And Lee at Tossing it Out is reviewing CassaStar today. Yes, I’m nervous!!



Sounds a wonderful book, I know Dover very well, so could imagine what the ferry terminal looked like.

Will see what Lee has to say about Cassastar, I thoroughly enjoyed it and left a review on Amazon.

Have a nice day

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Oh Yvonne, thank you!!

Gail said...

What wonderful what-ifs

Jemi Fraser said...

Sounds like a terrifc book! I like what ifs too :)

DEZMOND said...

what an inspiring person!

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Alex, thank you so much for having me as your blog guest. I find your journey as an author quite inspiring!

Thank you Yvonne, Gail, Jemi, and Desmond for your kind comments!


Matthew MacNish said...

Great post! It is so interesting to think how our real life experiences can influence our fiction.

Off to check Lee's blog!

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Thank you, Matthew!

I so enjoyed Lee's review of your book, Alex!

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Karen, thanks for your comment!

Mason Canyon said...

Using bits of travel memories in a book is a great way to hook the reader. Best of luck.

Thoughts in Progress

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks everyone for welcoming Monti today!

Copyboy said...

I love writing insight. Gives me fuel for my fire. BTW...Blurb has got me hungry for more.

Arlee Bird said...

Monti, I so agree with you about travel enriching one's experiences that can be applied to writing. I spent many years of my life on the road traveling the U.S. and often refer to this experience in my writing.

Alex, hope you didn't mind my injecting a little silliness into my review of CassaStaR, but that's what I do sometimes. Hope the review encourages a few more folks to pick up a copy of your book.

Tossing It Out

N. R. Williams said...

You were brave to wear a white suit Monti. I would have been mortified by the laundry needed to clean it. Of course, there are cleaners. LOL. I love how you have interwoven your travels in your novels as well as your paintings. Thanks for hosting Monti, Alex.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Bossy Betty said...

I can picture it so clearly! Do my trips to K-Mart count?

Old Kitty said...

Awwww I love that you thought you'd travel like Bogart and Bacall, Monti - down to wearing a dapper white suit!! Nevermind that it was not practical - it's the romantic vision that sustains and I love that!!! Yay for you!!

Thanks Alex J Cavanaugh for hosting the gloriously named Monti!!! I wish her well with her amazing book... speaking of which - guess what popped into my postbox on Saturday?!?!?!?!!!??!

OH WOW!!! I have Mr. Bassa all to myself for the next few weeks...!! Take care

Raquel Byrnes said...

Your book sounds so interesting and I love how you got the idea from some real life travels of your own.
Edge of Your Seat Romance

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Lee, thought at first that was a real sticking problem for you and you didn't like it!

Kitty, happy the book arrived! Try not to drool on the pages.

Jai Joshi said...

Great post, Monti.

I also cherish the experiences I've had traveling. Travel can enrich writing like nothing else because you have actual personal experience to bring a scene to life.

Sounds like a great book. Best wishes on it's success.


T. Powell Coltrin said...

Monti, Traveling experiences add flavor to any story. Great information on how to share personal experience in writing.

Alex, Thanks for hosting.

Arlee Bird said...

Alex, it was not a problem at all, it was just something that made me think--I think about weird things sometimes. Sometimes my sense of humor is a bit twisted and can get misconstrued. Does anyone remember my post about alliteration? That one really emptied a can of worms through a wormhole!

Tossing It Out

Carol Kilgore said...

This sounds like a great story. I use incidents like this in my writing, too. Thanks for hosting her, Alex.

Southpaw said...

The book sounds interesting. I like how you incorporate things you’ve seen into who scenes.

Shannon Messenger said...

Ooo, this book sounds great. Loved this post. Thanks for sharing!

Talli Roland said...

Sounds like a fantastic book! I love hearing how writers get snippets of ideas. Travelling always gives me new ideas and inspiration.

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Besides writing and art, I have a third passion--tennis. Am just back from playing in my Monday league and am ready to catch up!

Mason, using travel memories is a good way to keep the memories alive, too.

Copyboy, I'm glad the blurb caught your interest! Thanks for reading my post.

Arlee, there is nothing like travel to enrich the spirit and the soul. Your review of Alex's book has made me aware that children may want to read it. Since I work with all 350 children in our elementary school, as the art teacher, I like to know about books that may inspire them.

Nancy, that was a time when I was a romantic traveler, now I am more seasoned and sensible! Thank for commenting.

Betty, I bet you can get some real good background at K-Mart. Thanks!

Kitty, I'm still a hopeless romantic but I probably will never again travel in a white suit. Or maybe I will... Thanks for your comments!

Raquel, thanks! Love your name!

Jai, thanks. I love to use snippets from travel in my stories.

Teresa, I'm glad you got some helpful information. Thank you for commenting.

Carol, thank you. I'm glad to know you use incidents as well. It's a great way to remember them in a vivid way.

Holly, thank you. It's nice to have the experiences to incorporate!

Shannon, thanks so much for your comments. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Talli, thank you. I love the snippets travel inspires.

Happy writing, all,

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...


You certainly have an active group hanging out at your place.

Thanks for hosting me on your attractive blog site!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

travel, everyday expriences, just living all help to inspire a writer. Night Watch is yet another book for my TBR pile.

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Thanks, Lynda! Hope you enjoy NW.

Ellie Garratt said...

Love the way your trip ispired you, Monti. The scenes you depicted are so atmospheric.

I went on a bit of a wild trip yesterday, but. . .emm. . .less said about that the better. My head still hurts!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Glad everyone's enjoyed Monti's visit!

And that's all right, Lee - just hope no one sees the second half of your view as negative.

ali cross said...

I love your nickname Monti! And what a great way for us to look at the adventures life brings us ~ it all becomes fodder for our imaginations!

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Thanks, Ellie. I think the first time you visit a place is the most inspiring. Wonder if other people feel the same way? Maybe you see it with a fresher eye the first time.

Hope your head feels better!


Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Thanks, Ali! My roommate in college gave me that nickname. Adventure is fun, especially in books.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Love how your traveling helps you design scenes in your books. I got a little motion sick just thinking about that crossing.

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Thanks for your comment, Susan. I do get motion sickness on boats!

Anonymous said...

There's the old saying, travel is broadening. You, Monti, have certainly proven that!! All memories are fodder for stories. I'm glad I met you and thank Alex for hosting you.

Susan Fields said...

I'll bet that rought overnight ferry scene is exciting! What a wonderful way to add color to your writing by using your own experiences.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks again for visiting, Monti!

Anonymous said...

Its great to see Monti over here getting great exposure. Thanks Alex for hosting her. Best wishes to Monti and her hubby with Night Watch!

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Thanks, Ann, Susan, and Stephen for your comments. Interesting that things that appear challenging and insurmountable at the time become stepping stones for a good story.

Thank you so much for hosting me, Alex. What a fun site you have!

Melissa said...

That sounds fascinating! I love the idea of your first scene!!

Cheeseboy said...

Wow. Many people really seem to like and enjoy her stuff. I am going to have to check it out.

The Old Silly said...

Book sounds great, good luck with it! And I agree, travel is not only fun, as a writer the more places and situations we experience the richer is our background from which to draw on and write about.

Kelly Polark said...

I love the contrast of the crisp white suit in the dark tumultuous waters! What a vision!
It's definitely good to use your own experiences (especially vivid, memorable ones) in your writing.
Though I'm glad I don't have too many dangerous experiences to look back at for my writing. I'll look to other people's experiences for that!

Julie Musil said...

I love this idea. I actually take notes about scenery while I'm in a new place. Sights, sounds, smells, etc., then save them for future use. Thanks Monti, for the tips.

Alex, I'll go check out the book review!

Patricia Stoltey said...

I can picture that ferry ride! I was alone when I took one down the coast of Norway from Bergen to Stavanger on a grey, rainy day in choppy waters. Turning that kind of isolation into a scene of a mystery or suspense novel is an excellent idea.

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Thanks so much for all your comments!

Melissa, a ferry boat in the fog is a little spooky.

Cheeseboy, hope you like my books.

Old Silly, wish I were traveling right now, but then I would never get any writing or painting done!

Kelly, I've had a lot more dangerous experiences than I realized at the time.

Julie, great idea to take notes while you're there. I do that sometimes but find I'd much rather document with photographs.

Patricia, I've never been to Norway. Would love to go. I read your blog about your trip and really enjoyed it!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks again Monti and everyone for supporting her!

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Thanks, Alex! What a fun site!

Ella said...

Monti, I love how you found insight n' inspiration in your travels and added these details to your story!
Wonderful ideas; Thank you~

Pat Tillett said...

What if? That's such a great concept and simple!
Great post! Thanks...

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Ellen and Pat, thanks so much for your comments! I love traveling and what ifs!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing about this author and her books. Night Watch sounds like an interesting book to read.