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!
41 thoughts on “Girly Books Blog Hop: Location, Portland, Maine”
Portland, Maine looks beautiful! I’ve never been there despite spending a couple of years in New England (Connecticut and Boston, but I tried to visit other places also).
Portland Is gorgeous – you should come visit sometime! Connecticut is gorgeous, too, though, and Boston is one of the most fun cities around!
Laura, thank you so much for the lovely memories. I LOVE Portland, Maine. It was one of the first vacations my husband and I took (many) years ago as a married couple. We went to Acadia Natl. Park, Portland, and lots of little towns around Maine and I loved it. Great post!
I had no idea that you had ties to Portland! That sounds like a wonderful vacation – Acadia is one of the most beautiful places around, isn’t it?! Thanks so much for commenting!
How are you going to get “Portlandia” to come to the other coast?
Wouldn’t that be awesome!? Are we weird enough and close enough to the 90s, though? What am I saying? Of course we are!
That parking ban anecdote fascinated me. I had no idea that snow could put such a damper on city-dwellers lives!
Thanks for sharing the inside scoop about Portland and your characters, Laura!
I’ll have to think up some other tidbits about cold-weather city dwelling that seem second nature to me! Thanks for reading!
Maine sounds so amazing (and its proximity to Nova Scotia appeals to me, too).
Maine is amazing! There used to be a shuttle service between Portland and Nova Scotia – I’m not sure if it is still running, though. I’ve never been to Nova Scotia, but went to PEI when I was in high school – gorgeous!!
Maine truly looks like a beautiful place. I would definitely like to get there one day. Great post – just coming by to say “hi.”
Thanks Meredith – and thanks so much for your help on the post! I really appreciate it and would love to see you in Portland any time!
I don’t think I have ever been to Portland and I am right next door in New Hampshire, right on the Maine border too! I guess I will finally have to take a trip there this summer and check it out finally 🙂
You will have to check out Portland! I love New Hampshire, though. I went to school in Vermont and saw a lot of towns in between Portland and Burlington including tons of terrific places in NH!
Chose it, love it, ain’t leavin’ it! No matter what you want to do, Portland’s got it!
You got it!!
Portland is so gorgeous. Many years ago, I took a bus tour through New England , which had a too brief stopover in Portland, but I can’t recall too much. Never knew about your winter parking ban, which must be a pain in the neck.
One thing that I loved fon that trip was the fresh fried clams, which you can’t get in the West Coast/ Southwest.
Fried clams are my favorite too! Summer in Maine means fried clams; fried dough at a summer festival; and pier fries at Old Orchard Beach. Everything else is extra.
Great post, Laura! And I love how you tied in your characters’ experience. Next Year I’ll Be Perfect sounds fab. Definitely going on my TBR list. I particularly like the idea of your pottymouth divorcee. 🙂 Great to learn more about Portland. My college roommate was from Cape Elizabeth and I loved her accent (I’m from the Midwest). Thanks so much for participating in the hop!!
Thanks so much Libby! I’m loving reading everyone else’s posts and have found a bunch of books I want to read, too! Would love to participate in another Blog Hop anytime!
I’ve only been to Massachusetts and Rhode Island must make another trip! Thanks for the giveaway!
tobihelton at gmail dot com
We’re just a little further north and worth the extra miles!
The winter parking ban; certainly not my favorite thing! As a fellow New Englander I am no stranger to that, although we don’t get close to as much snow as I would like here. I grew up in Northern British Columbia, and anyone who complains about the snow in Connecticut should be sent there for a winter week. Or, I would imagine, to Maine!
dreammie_angel at yahoo dot com
I’ve only been to Vancouver, but that was gorgeous… And not winter… And not that far north! :). I’m sure you get tons of snow where you are!
Portland looks gorgeous. Thank you, Laura, for taking me there. I LOVE the title of your book!
Samantha Stroh Bailey
Thank you so much Samantha!
Such a cool blog hop.. getting to know a little more about many great places! 🙂
Thank you Karina!
the coast line looks really nice thanks for the hop
kaholgate at ymail dot com
Thank you! I love the coast – the pix really can’t do it justice
I love Maine! The rocky beaches are so pretty (I live in Florida, so the change is nice).
The great thing about Florida though is that you can swim in the ocean by just jumping in. In Maine you creep in slowly waiting until each body part goes numb before going in deeper…
Love the sound of your book. Have added to my GR TBR. Naively thought I could do Connecticut, Maine and Massachussets in one week (that’s what happens when you come from a small island called Great Britain) Eventually we did a part of Connecticut in a week! So never got to go to Maine, but would love to read more about it. Parking ban sounds REALLY annoying! Sooz
I spent a very short vacation in London and Scotland and didn’t get to see half the places I wanted so I completely understand! Now you’ll just have to come back!
Beautiful pictures! And I have to say, I love your blog. So glad I found it through the blog hop. I love reviews where the reviewer puts it right out there whether or not they liked the book.
Thank you so much Shannon! I hope you continue to stop by and check in! I’m going to try to write more reviews this year…if I can just find some time to read!
Maine is one of the 5 US states that I have not visited, yet. There’s always the bucket list to work on.
Great photos! I def want to visit Maine and photograph some lighthouses!
Such a pretty city–thanks for sharing!
Thanks for sharing Portland with us. I will keep the photo that isn’t really in Portland top secret. 🙂 But be warned, books and coffee are my weakness and if someone offers, I may break. The waterfront view however is absolutely stunning. Maine is not anywhere I would have thought I would want to visit but I may now have to reconsider. Only in the summer of course because I am always seeing it get hammered with snow and I won’t go move my car in a snowstorm. They could run it over! LOL
Thanks for the amazing giveaway!
elizabeth @ bookattict . com