Monday, June 18, 2012


I was shopping in Ellicott City a couple of weeks ago. I should go down there more often just because it’s a good place to soak up charm. It’s a 250-year-old town about fifteen minutes from where I live in Maryland. The kind of place where you drive right out of the modern world and into the past. I’m lucky it’s so close by, and I’ve used it in several of my books, including HER BABY’S FATHER, my Harlequin Intrigue coming out in September. 

Strolling the narrow streets and driving up into the steep hills above Main Street give me inspiration for books. It’s kind of like going to an ancient European town. Main Street is deep in a river valley, lined with stone buildings that have been converted to shops and restaurants.  There are antique dealers and quirky boutiques you won’t find anywhere else. And there’s a railroad museum, converted from the first terminus of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which came to Ellicott City from Baltimore.  In 1830 a horse raced a train speeding along the tracks, and the horse won.

One shop I love is the Forget-Me-Not Factory.  
It’s got all kinds of weird and wonderful stuff--from dragon and wolf ornaments to costumes I might want to wear at the RT Booklovers Convention. On my last visit, I found a deck of cards with three howling wolves on the back, I snatched them up. They’re perfect for me. I love wolves, especially werewolves, of course. 
Writers get their inspiration from anything and everything around them.  Over the years, the charming streets of Ellicott City have given me a lot of  food for thought, starting way back when I wrote for Dell Ecstasy. Remember that line? If you do, you’re admitting that you were reading romances in the early 80’s—when I started writing them.

Before I became a novelist, I began my writing career as a newspaper reporter, and one of the papers I wrote for was the Howard County Times, which was published in Ellicott City.  Back before they got the flood control straightened out, the town would be inundated with water during bad storms like Hurricane Agnes in 1967. That storm made an impression that stuck with me, and in RELUCTANT MERGER (published in 1983), I had my reporter heroine trapped in the newspaper plant during a flood—which I moved down by the river to make the setting more dangerous.  The water was rising, and the newspaper owner hero came charging to the rescue. They had to save each other from drowning and ended up making love, of course. 

The hero of my novella “Remington and Juliet” has an estate outside of Ellicott City.

Several of the werewolf heroes in my Moon series live in Ellicott City. They don’t care much about the charm of the old town, but they do like the surrounding wooded areas where they can change from human to wolf form and go for a nice run where nobody’s around. 

I love traveling, and I get lots of ideas for my books from far-flung locations. But I’m lucky that I don’t have to travel far to soak up some of the best atmosphere around.

Do you have an area near your home that’s oozing with charm?

Comment or tell me what you think of the cover of HER BABY'S FATHER for a chance to win a copy of my Harlequin Intrigue, SUDDEN INSIGHT.