I’m very excited to be part of Libby Mercer’s Girly Book Blog Hop! In addition to telling you about one of my very favorite places – Portland, Maine – I can offer readers of my blog:
- the chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card
- a link to enter a huge book giveaway
- the opportunity to hop around to other blogs to see how other writers respond to the prompt, “Location, location, location!” Read through to the end for all of the fabulous details.
My Location: Portland, Maine
When writing my novel, Next Year I’ll be Perfect, it didn’t take me very long to decide where the story should be set.
First, I wanted my characters to live in a city that I could write about with some authority, so I knew it had to be in the Northeast. While I love traveling and have spent time in some beautiful cities in the South and West, I didn’t think I could pull off writing a book about those areas without doing quite a bit of research.
I hate research.
Then I considered the different elements I needed for my story: The setting needed to be large enough to support a number of different law practices but small enough for characters to bump into one another realistically. It needed to support the social lives of professional twenty and thirty-somethings as well as be comfortable for older characters like Jeremy and Gloria. Finally, the location had to be close enough to New York so that David to hop back and forth to visit his family regularly.
So…. a city I could knowledgeably write about; that wasn’t too big; and wasn’t too small. The answer pretty much stared me in the face:
Since I’m going to share with you all of the wonderful things Portland, Maine has to offer, I should probably start off by being honest and sharing something that all residents of the State of Maine have sworn to never to tell:
The iconic Portland Headlight pictured above is not actually in Portland. It’s in the neighboring town of Cape Elizabeth.
Shhh…. let’s just keep that as our little secret.
This is a picture of the real Portland. It’s a working waterfront that can comfortably house a 29-year old lawyer having a personal and professional crisis; a retired police officer/diner owner trying not to meddle in the lives of his grown children; and a polished thirtysomething divorcee’ with a potty mouth.
Portland has something to offer everyone, and having lived in Portland or within 10 miles for most of my life I’ve experienced the good, the bad and the ugly at one time or another.
The Good: Portland has far more good things to offer than I could possibly include in this one post, but here’s a short list of what is available within the city limits or a very short commute:
- Every winter activity imaginable: skiing, skating, showshoeing, sledding
- Every summer activity imaginable: hiking, swimming, kayaking, canoeing
- Sports teams: Pirates (hockey); Sea Dogs (baseball); Red Claws (basketball)
- Shopping: Ever heard of LL Bean? 20 minutes away and open 24 hours/365 days a year
- Culture: Big musical theater and experimental improv groups; museums and art galleries with exhibits that rival those of any big city
- Music: You can catch today’s radio stars at the Civic Center; indie bands at the State Theater or the next big thing at any open mic night around town
The Bad: There is far more good than bad in Portland, but top of the list is the winter parking ban. “What is a winter parking ban?” my friends from the warmer states may ask… Well, many residents of Portland don’t have off-street parking and must park on the street. That’s all fine and dandy until a snowstorm hits and the city snowplows have to clear the snow which they can’t do while cars are parked on them. During snowstorms, Portlanders must move their cars from the streets and fight for spaces in the very limited city lots and garages. Picture the rumble between the Sharks and the Jets with windshield scrapers instead of switchblades.
The Ugly: Portland is an amazing city for foodies. It has restaurants representing almost every ethnic group under the sun: Greek, Italian, Ethiopian, Moroccan, German, Indian… pretty much everything you could ask for. So why is this information fall in the “ugly” category? Well, while all of these wonderful options are available in Portland, they aren’t always available to starving law students like Sarah Bennett. Luckily, Portland has not one – but two – 24 hour Denny’s restaurants.
In a nutshell, Portland easily lives up to the Maine state motto:
For more information check out Portland’s Convention and Visitors Bureau
Back to the Girly Book Blog Hop:
So how do you win the great prizes I mentioned at the top of the blog?
- Leave a comment below with your name and e-mail address. One random winner will receive a $5 Amazon gift certificate at the end of the Blog Hop.
- Stop by the Girly Books Grand Prize Giveaway Post (#41) for a chance to win books, gift cards and more!!
Finally, don’t forget to check out all of the posts below to see what other bloggers have to say about “location.” It’s a great way to find a favorite new author!