Travel Tuesday, Anyone? Bring Your Own Armchair

One of the best things about being a mystery author is brainstorming new stories and settings. I love that I can “virtually” hang around London most days as I write, and have my characters hop a fictional plane at any moment to go to France, Italy, Spain–or wherever. My friend Eleanor was “literally” hanging out in England last week and sharing pictures of her trip on her FB page, and giving me some fun new things to think about as I work up future Bodies of Art books.

That’s the beauty of writing about characters who use their passports on an almost daily basis, all the time I spend reading my friends’ FB pages that show their travel shots counts as research, too. But that’s not all.

If you like your mysteries with an international flair, consider joining me and four other fun mystery authors (including the afore mentioned Eleanor) at a new Facebook group we’re starting called Passport Ready Writers. The page doesn’t officially open until June 1st, but here’s the link if you want to check it out, and click the JOIN button to be ready on day 1:   https://www.facebook.com/groups/PassportReadyWritersReaders/

What’s the connection? All of us write fiction that globe trots, and we want to connect with readers who want to know behind the scenes info and why we write what we do. The five of us don’t just put our characters in danger, we make sure they’re in great settings while they run for their lives or catch a murderer. So, do you like mysteries with English tea and scones, overlooking the pyramids, or in a gondola on an Italian canal? Or fast-paced plots with more twists than a Grand Prix at Monte Carlo? How about likeable characters and lively conversation? If so, grab your virtual passport and join us as we cross borders and solve murders. After all, crime doesn’t require a visa.

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Armchair Traveling on a Chilly November Afternoon

Had the need today to page through some pictures that tie back with books in my Bodies of Art series, and thought I’d share them with anyone needing a little Armchair Traveling for the day. I’ve thrown in pictures I used for all four books written–but only 3 are available for sale right now. The fourth, Fatal Forgeries, will be released in 2017. Sit back. Enjoy.

For a bit of a picture legend to these shots–

The first two pictures are London, where all the Bodies of Art Books are at some point each time. Third is the hilly street of Le-Puy-en-Velay from Counterfeit Conspiracies, fourth-through sixth is Florence for Marked Masters, seventh is a picture of Cassie’s flat entrance mentioned in book #1 & visited by Laurel & Jack in book #4, with the eighth the artists restoration pit where Cassie worked at the Victoria & Albert Museum that Laurel used to get away from Jack in book #1.

The next beach shot is Barcelona from Fatal Forgeries, followed by the Raphael Sibyls featured in Abstract Aliases. The small church coming up next is the Rome’s Santa Maria della Pace where The Sibyls reside, then Baden-Baden one of the stops after Rome in Abstract Aliases. 

The bar scene beside the Baden-Baden shot is in the Bar at La Boqueria in Barcelona as in Fatal Forgeries. The two fountains are the Trevi Fountain in Rome (left with classical statues) and Font Magica in Barcelona (right-colorful). And the next two shots are additional colorful sights of Barcelona, Spain from my Fatal Forgeries notes–the first a market shot of Le Boqueria on La Ramblas and the second a view of the mosaics used in architecture by Gaudi. The final two are shots Cologne, Germany–both of which feature the amazing cathedral where the mystery continued for Laurel & Jack in Abstract Aliases.

the-london-skyline-the-beginning-of-most-books-in-the-bodies-of-art-mysteries london-underground-shot-characters-use-the-tube-most-in-books-1-4 hilly-streets-in-le-puy-in-velay-as-a-setting-in-book-1-and-discussed-in-book-4 the-moon-over-the-ponte-vecchio-bridge-florence-italy-as-in-marked-masters florence-italy-from-the-tuscan-hills-as-in-marked-masters ghibertis-gates-of-paradise-at-the-florence-duomo-in-abstract-aliases artists-restoration-pit-at-the-victoria-albert-museum-where-cassie-interned-in-book-1 entrance-to-cassies-flat-near-portobello-road-mentioned-in-book-1-and-visited-in-book-4 barcelona-beach-a-setting-in-fatal-forgeries-book-4 raphaels-the-sibyls-as-in-abstract-aliases romes-church-of-santa-maria-della-pace-as-in-abstract-aliases baden-baden-as-in-abstract-aliases bar-at-la-boqueria-in-barcelona-as-in-fatal-forgeries romes-fontana-di-trevi-as-in-abstract-aliases font-magica-in-barcelona-as-in-fatal-forgeries mercat-boqueria-barcelona-as-in-fatal-forgeries-book-4 barcelonas-park-guell-as-in-fatal-forgeries cologne-cathedral-as-in-abstract-aliases entering-cologne-germany-as-in-abstract-aliases

 

This is So Cool–and it’s Free!

tumblr_inline_o1mdsxa1zz1rs13co_500Doing a little U.K. research this morning, and I ran across a terrific freebie that is practically unrelated to my research (well, it is England-related) but it is fun. It is also Free– a lovely coloring book filled with art images from the Middle Ages to bring out the artist in everyone. Click This Link–2016-Bodleian-Library-Colouring-Book to get your own PDF copy of the coloring book to download from the Bodleian Library. Don’t bother clicking the lovely GIF at the right–it’s just showing off to get your attention. Love this–especially because it’s free. So, grab your colored (or should that be coloured?) pencils, fun inks, or crayons. Download and print your own copy to spend the weekend coloring up the Middle Ages. Have fun, everyone!

 

So Much Chocolate, So Little Time

M&M1 I’m in the middle of writing and researching the next Bodies of Art novel, so my mind and clicking finger naturally gravitates toward anything relating to London. Recently, I read an article that has me wanting to grab my passport and book a flight. The Brits have a huge M&M store in London! Yes, four stories high, and looking like something between Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and my most heartfelt desire.

Couldn’t resist grabbing a few of the shots and posting them here to share for now and enjoy later when I’m planning my next hop across the pond 🙂M&M5

So many choices. Wonder which ones I would pick–M&M6

–This is the M&M take on the iconic Abbey Road pic.

And I wonder if anyone tries to make the queen’s M&M guard laugh or smile at his posting.

It really would be tempting–M&M3

Imagine having your personal order completed while you wait. Kind of reminds me of the classic I Love Lucy episode where Lucy & M&M2Ethel packaged candy (when they weren’t eating the bon bons or stuffing them down their shirts).

So very much chocolate, and so little time. Sigh…

Something for everyone I’ll bet–well, everyone who loves chocolate 🙂

M&M4

Decisions…Decisions

To keep up with all my ideas, I have my “working notebooks” and keep one on each new book, and file all series notebooks together in my office. I scribble lines I want my characters to use, ideas on where they should go and what they should wear, I take notes on news programs that cover topics related to the places and events my character(s) will see. It’s all grist for the mill, you understand. Yes, I could do all of this in a digital file and have it wherever I go, but there’s just something about brainstorming with a pen and paper that a notebook computer simply can’t provide.

But one things I do always take advantage of online is to collect pictures on my Pinterest boards at https://www.pinterest.com/ritterames/ For some reason WordPress doesn’t want to imbed this address correctly today as a link, so I figured the whole thing might be best in case anyone wants to take a look. I’m up to 27 boards now–a lot of people have many more, but so far this group serves my immediate needs. On my boards, I have Organized tips I’ve collected for my Organized Mysteries, travel tips for my characters to use in both my series, and–what I’ve been mooning over lately–great places around this glorious globe that I want to use in future Bodies of Art Mysteries.

BarcelonaRight now, I’m trying to decide if I’m going to keep all of book #3 in the Bodies of Art Mysteries Series, working title (definitely subject to change) Abstract Aliases, completely in England, or if I’m going to move onto the European Continent. I’m thinking a side trip to Barcelona, Spain or Basel, Switzerland is also an option. And yes, it’s just a coincidence that those cities and countries share the same first letters in their names–but you can see how my mind probably works. The shot peeking through the walls at the left are the view from Sagrada Familia in Barcelona–can’t you just see Laurel making plans while she checks out that view?

The shot atBasel Switzerland at night the right, on the other hand, is Basel, Switzerland at night. I have no difficulty imagining Laurel and Jack in the moonlight along that river view–whether they’re strolling in elegant evening clothes or escaping potential capture while dress in burglar black.

There’s just something about looking at vibrant pictures that makes me not only want to travel, but to write about the possibilities of what my characters might see and do when they arrive at those same places.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00001]I think it’s easy to see why my Pinterest Boards are not only one of my best ways to stay organized, but to keep motivated in my writing, too. I tagged my Pinterest Board on Italy so many times when writing Marked Masters, that I think I left that tab open on my laptop more than I did my email or Facebook! But that was the best way to keep all the elements of Florence in mind as I wrote that portion of the novel.

I’ll be leaving on a jet plane at the end of this week, but only to head for the East Coast. No European travel for me. However, that doesn’t mean I won’t be taking notes the whole time I’m gone. Need to slip another notebook into my luggage 🙂

Luckily, I have a bit more time before I need to make a final decision on all the places Laurel and Jack will be going in their next book!

Picture Me Organized

I never imagined when I penned my first story that I would eventually have to balance my writing work with such daily tasks as comb research sites and flag them for later use, file tax records, discover marketing options, network with advertisers, find fabulous clothes for my characters to wear, locate spy and tech stuff for my characters to use, figure out group activities for my characters’ children…and still find a way to write and have some fun in the middle of this publishing circus. One social media invention that helps me keep on top of all my treasured data is Pinterest. Yes, Pinterest. I know, a lot of people say it’s a time waster, but for me the site is an organizing sensation. Here’s why–

London Horse statue in streetSince I write two mystery series, I can have multiple boards about the endless number of things that relate to each series. I have fabulous European sites and travel tips for my Bodies of Art Mysteries series (and yes, this is where the spy and tech research comes in), and organization, parenting, and money saving tips for my Organized Mysteries series. The pictures are fun to find, easy to post, and a snap to locate later when I need to describe a scene or how to do something in one of my character’s lives. The site also allows me to create boards for each of my series, so I can add new covers as books are readied for release.

Horse statue in FlorenceAnd you can learn some really unique things. Take a look at these shots of London, England and Florence, Italy, for example. Who would have thought that you could get similar shots with a horse statue anchoring the street scene in each city, with the premier landmark of the city centered in the background of each shot? Sure, it isn’t an earth shattering fact that will make or break a mystery novel, but it is an interesting factoid I can have one of my characters mention to another. Little things like these that I can’t necessarily catch in a week-long vacation are some of the greatest attributes of Pinterest.

Even better, others can see my boards and follow the ones that interest them, giving us a connection we never had before. And the people who follow me often pin things on their boards I’m interested in, too, so I discover new places and tips without the time consuming searches. You can probably imagine how much help I find with these specialized boards when I’m writing my Bodies of Art series and needing to describe these fabulous settings. My boards are kind of Florence-heavy at the moment since so much of the action in my latest release, Marked Masters, took place in that glorious Renaissance city. London was more heavily featured in Counterfeit Conspiracies, as well as areas in France.

Does it all sound intriguing to you? If so, feel free to wander over to my Pinterest site at http://www.pinterest.com/ritterames where  I have a couple of dozen boards up now, and I welcome everyone to come and browse. And if you follow me, you’re likely to find I’ve wandered over to check out yours as well. Happy reading and pinning, everyone!