How does an author gather the details she needs to write a book? Tag along on a photo-journal research trip along the Oregon Coast!
Before I could write the next books in The
Cupcake Diaries series, I knew I had to take a 4 hour road trip from my home in
Washington down to the Oregon Coast. I had been there several times before, butneeded to gather new info and take a fresh
look at the landmarks in the surrounding area with an author's eye. My husband
did most of the driving so I could write notes and take photos along the way.
Our first stop was at the Pig 'N Pancake
restaurant in Astoria to get coffee and a good breakfast. Afterwards I took
photos of the sprawling Astoria-Megler Bridge from the parking lot. Astoria is
the seaport town where the majority of the first 4 books in the series is set.
We continued our journey and arrived in
Cannon Beach forty minutes later. Book 5 - The Cupcake Diaries: Sprinkled with
Kisses - releases March 18th and is set at this location. When I wrote the book
I used the Google Earth web cam to view various streets where I could place my
heroine Stacey's pink Volkswagen bus mobile cupcake stand. I was happy to see
the web cam had been extremely accurate - I recognized the spot on sight. As I
walked the beach and traveled all the paths Stacey took in the book I used my camera
to photograph everything. I will use these pictures for upcoming blogs and
other promotion for the new book release.
Next we visited the tourist information
center where I talked with the woman in charge about festivals and events that
might impact my characters at different times of the year. I also picked up
maps, booklets, postcards, pamphlets, magazines, and newspapers from the area
to help set my scenes with accurate detail and historical background.
Now the part we were really looking
forward to. We went to Simply Cakes by
Jae and bought 4 cupcakes: 2 vanilla with raspberry filling and Italian
butter cream icing, 1fudge filled chocolate, and 1 caramel filled
chocolate.These are simply the best
cupcakes I've ever tasted! www.simplycakesbyjae.com.Jae's shop was originally located in Astoria
and when she moved to Cannon Beach I was inspired to have my cupcake shop girls
(Andi, Rachel, and Kim) expand their business and run a beach stand. Jae has
been a valuable source of information, not only for details about running a
cupcake shop, but for giving me local resident insight. Many scenes in the book
series were inspired by our previous conversations. This time we talked for 1 ½
hours. I plan to have a book signing at her shop (with cupcakes!) in May.
While I was in town I also stopped in the
local book store to see if they'd be interested in a book signing and also
learned the library features local authors once a month.
Next stop: Seaside. This is the new
location for Book 6 in the series, the book I plan to write next. I picked
Seaside to be the town where my cupcake shop girls open their second shop for a
number of reasons. Seaside has volleyball tournaments on the beach, something I
plan to bring into the plot. And it has the aquarium where you can feed the
seals. They are just so cute I have to bring them into the story by setting an
important scene there. Seaside is also a huge draw for tourists and so the town
has lots of fun and unique things for my new romantic couple to do.
After checking into our hotel, we walked
to the circular promenade at the end of the main street by the beach. The
statues of historical pioneers Lewis and Clarkstand in the middle and when I saw a pictorial engraved hand shake on
the monument with the words, "peace and friendship," I thought that
could very well be this new book's theme.
Day 2 of the research trip was much lighter.
I took more photos. The purpose of the pictures are 3-fold. I can use them for
promotion, look at them while I write for inspiration and accurate detail, and
they help me find possible locations for scenes set in the story.
I found the perfect place for the second
cupcake shop next to our hotel in the Riverside Walk shops. I went across the
bridge to take photos of the shop from the opposite side of the river and
discovered two furry otters scratching their backs on the wooden dock. There is
no doubt - these little guys will also find a way into this story!
My husband and I went into the Seaside Aquarium
today and I gathered the scene info and necessary ties to theme and plotline by
reading some of the descriptions and backgrounds of the fish. Very cool! The
background for one type of fish symbolizes my story character's trials.
I visited two more bookstores and talked
to each of them about possible book signings in hopes of grouping some of these
together into one weekend the next time I come down. Always multi-tasking!
I hope you've enjoyed the tour and
recognize some of my stops when you read Books 5, 6, & 7of The Cupcake Diaries. For more information visit:www.darlenepanzera.com