Is it weird that cemeteries inspire me?

My last post was about going to Fenway to do research for a book. But that’s not always possible.

When penning Confessions from the Heart, the prequel to the Confessions series, the two characters go to Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a place I’d never been to even though I’d lived in Boston for a handful of years. I combed through photos and descriptions online, but a part of me always wondered if I’d gotten it right.

Now that I’m back in Massachusetts, I decided to walk in the footsteps of my characters. Starting in Harvard Square, I walked along Brattle Street on my way to the cemetery.

The directions only involved traversing Brattle Street, but I’m directionally challenged. And it was hot outside, meaning I kept checking my map on my phone to see if I’d overshot it. I hadn’t. Good thing I packed plenty of water.

Finally, I made it.

My first thought was the place was impressive. More than impressive.

I paid a dollar for a map of the grounds. Don’t worry, though. I still got lost many times, living up to my inability to follow directions, and I had a good chuckle when I couldn’t find Narcissus Path on the map. Does that mean I’m not one or…?

I wandered around for a few hours and barely covered half of the place. Meaning, I need to go back to explore. Have I ever mentioned I love wandering through cemeteries? It’s kinda an odd thing to admit, but seriously, this place is beautiful.

 

Audiobook Giveaway

To celebrate finally seeing the cemetery in real life, I’m running an audiobook giveaway for Confessions from the Heart. If you’re a US or UK Audible listener, email me at tbm@tbmarkinson.com with Confessions from the Heart Audiobook Giveaway in the subject line. In the body of the email, let me know if you have access to the US or UK store. The giveaway ends on November 6th.

I’m pretty sure I’ll go back to the cemetery and soon, because while there, a different story started to come to my mind. And, I’m pretty sure a scene or two will take place there. I have no idea why cemeteries inspire me so, but they do.

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Do They Still Feel You Up at Fenway?

It takes me time to become comfortable enough in a place before I can include a setting in a novel. Some of my books take place in Colorado, where I went to high school and college. I ended up loving Fort Collins, where the university was, and stayed there until my early thirties.

Naturally, A Woman Lost, my first novel, is set in Fort Collins.

After living in Boston for over six years, I felt like I had a handle on the place and could include it in Confessions from a Coffee Shop. I’m not officially a Masshole, but it was easier for me to have a sense of the place.

Writing about the United Kingdom took longer because I had a lot going against me. Even though I ended up living in the UK for seven years, I was initially an outsider moving to another country I’d never been to before, aside from an unpleasant visit to one of the airports. My experience will always be different than someone born and raised in London. Although I lived there for many years, by the time I penned my first book set there, I was cautious enough to include a character in A Shot at Love I could relate to somewhat by making her half British half American.

Now that I’m back in the US after eight years of living in the UK and Ireland, I’m having to reacquaint myself with American settings, which is a weird. I’m American, but I feel like an outsider now.

In my recent release, Reservations of the Heart, there’s a scene that takes place at Fenway, one of America’s oldest baseball parks. It’d been years since I attended a game. Before I moved to the UK, we’d go several times a season, and I distinctly remember security people searching bags and then patting everyone down.

Originally, I wrote the scene in Reservations this way. But I started to think back to the last time I’d been to Fenway, and I realized things might have changed. What’s a writer and sports fan to do? Buy tickets for a game, of course.

The day I could get tickets for was Mother’s Day. I grabbed them a few weeks before, and the baseball gods weren’t looking out for me, since that particular Sunday in May was cold, rainy, and miserable. I was told I’d be going alone, which is understandable because it really was atrocious weather.

I put on my rain jacket and boots for the journey. Before heading out, I had to look at the map to find the correct side street I wanted. Before the move to the UK, I used to walk to work and I went by Fenway five days a week. It’s amazing how much you forget over the years.

Since the day was extremely unpleasant, Fenway wasn’t as crowded as normal. I was able to snap quite a few photos in areas that were typically mobbed. After going through the security measures, which now involve metal detectors (a relief since I’m not big on people I don’t know feeling me up), I explored a bit. When I got to my seat, which was soaking wet, I opted to get some photos for the atmosphere.

At one point, in the third inning, I heard a woman say to her grown son, “I really appreciate the tickets and spending the day with you on Mother’s Day, but I’m cold so let’s get together next weekend. Toodles.” I may have added the toodles part, but it seemed like the time to use it.

I was right there with her. I left soon after that and met my peeps at a bar close by to finish the game while drinking a hot toddy to warm up.

I ended up going back to Fenway this summer, which was a hot day. I stuck around for that game.

 

GIVEAWAY

To celebrate the release of my latest novel, I’ve put together a giveaway, which will include a signed copy of Reservations of the Heart and a $50 Amazon gift card.

A bit about Reservations:

When Stella and Aurora unexpectedly come together, sparks fly. Neither is looking for a relationship, but what they discover in one another is so much more than a physical connection. Can two wounded women who believe love is the last thing they want overcome their fears to find healing?

Best-selling lesbian romance author T.B. Markinson brings lesfic readers a heartwarming age-gap story about facing one’s demons to live a fuller and loving life. Grab your copy of the standalone medical romance novel that will make your heart sing.

Thanks so much for reading!

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Back to New York City

Last time, I shared about my time at RWA and New York City.

Today, I’m here to share a bit about my second jaunt to the Big Apple for a long weekend. Since this trip didn’t involve any work, I was able to relax a lot more. Even though I didn’t speak at RWA, I was slightly intimidated being in the room with so many authors. It’s hard to battle the introvert in me sometimes.

This post, though, is about my fun weekend, so let’s get to it.

First up: the birth place of Theodore Roosevelt. This trip was a last-second decision, so I really had no idea where we were staying until we arrived at the apartment. While doing a search of things to do near me, Teddy’s home popped up. I felt rather foolish since this wasn’t my first time to NYC and I love history, but I didn’t know he was actually born in the city.

Even though it popped up on my map of things to do nearby, it wasn’t all that close to our location. No matter. I still decided to walk there, which was thirty-something blocks. I much prefer walking when exploring to get a true sense of the place.

I didn’t take any photos inside while doing a tour of the house, which was free, but I snapped some of his quotes in the museum portion of the house. (No one was there to witness this, although I do think photos are allowed.)

That night, we took in a Red Sox vs. Yankees game. The Sox got two runs in the first, and the Yanks got a grand slam, which was cool to see live. After that, no one scored. Meaning we didn’t stay for the whole game.

The next day, I took off for another walk to visit Central Park and St. Patrick’s Cathedral before having a late breakfast at Mom’s Kitchen & Bar. Then I met up with the better half to catch an afternoon show of Chicago.

Central Park pics:

St. Patrick’s pics:

Mom’s:

Random photos during my wanderings:

That night, I met up with Lori Prince, who has narrated two series for me: The Chosen One and Confessions. For some inexplicable reason, I didn’t get a snap with Lori.

The next day, we had a mellow brunch at an Irish pub while watching a Gaelic Football match on the telly, which I hadn’t seen since living in Ireland. It made me miss Dublin.

Late that afternoon, we were back on the train heading home.

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RWA and New York City

The second writing conference I attended last July was the national meeting of the Romance Writers of America in New York City.

While I’ve been attending local chapter meetings of RWA since moving back to Boston, and I went to the regional conference last April, this was my first time going to the big RWA event of the year. I wasn’t sure what to expect, really.

But the conference was in NYC, which is one of my all-time favorite places in the US. So, I didn’t think twice about going.

I’m so glad I did. I’ve been to many author events over the years, but I have to say this is one of the better conferences I’ve had the pleasure of going to in person.

There were so many panels, and at times, I had a difficult time deciding which ones to go to. Also, I did an author signing and was pleased by how many people asked for a signed copy of A Woman Lost. I should note the books were free and most who asked were book bloggers who, more than likely, will give them away.

Not sure why everything is pink.

 

I ran into some authors from Bold Strokes Books. It was kinda funny, actually. When walking into one seminar with Miranda MacLeod, I was off in my own world, a habit of mine. It wasn’t until Miranda yelled my name that I realized Melissa Brayden was waving hello. I’m a huge fan of Melissa (The Soho Loft series is one of the best in lesfic), and I was slightly embarrassed that I was a space cadet but also tickled pink that Melissa Brayden was waving hello. Melissa was there with Georgia Beers, Ali Vali, Aurora Rey, and Nell Stark.

I was surprised to find so many lesfic authors at an event I’ve always associated with man chests, but it turns out RWA members are increasingly concerned with diversity and representation in the romance genre. It was a big topic of conversation, and I came away feeling like the modern romance author and reader are both interested in embracing the “love is love” mantra and making sure that no matter what you look like or who you love, you can find stories that represent you.

My time in New York wasn’t all about the conference. I took some time to visit a Holocaust exhibit, toured the Tenement Museum twice, visited the 50th Anniversary exhibit of Stonewall, took a dinner cruise on the Hudson, and had a semi-proper tea at Lillie’s Victorian Establishment.

Photos of the tea at Lille’s:

Photos from the dinner cruise:

Random photos:

Oh, I also got a snap of me with my favorite president, Lincoln.

I had so much fun in NYC that when my partner mentioned another trip the following weekend, I couldn’t say yes quickly enough. I’ll share more about NYC, part two, next time.

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GCLS and Pittsburgh: Two Firsts for Me

Gosh, I feel like I’ve been on the move since July 1. Over the past five weeks, I’ve attended the Golden Crown Literary Society conference in Pittsburgh, the Romance Writers of America conference in New York City, and then went back to NYC for a long weekend for fun. In between all the travel, I launched A Shot at Love, book 1 in The Village Romance series, and helped Clare Lydon and Harper Bliss launch their books in the same series.

I’m exhausted and realizing I’m not young anymore. I kinda like having a routine and being in bed by 9:30 each night.

Anyhoos, now that life has settled down some, it’s time for me to share about my experiences.

First up: Pittsburgh and GCLS. This was my first time attending a GCLS conference. It was fab to catch up with some authors I’d met previously and to find so many I’d never had the pleasure of meeting in real life. Check out all the authors I tracked down. Scroll over the photos for the names.

It was also my first time in Pittsburgh, and I have to admit I liked the city. It hadn’t been on my radar of places to visit, but I’m glad I did.

Next time, I’ll chat about the RWA conference in New York City.

Now, I need a nap.


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Lesbian road trip to the Cotswolds

Back in March, I traveled to the United Kingdom for the London Book Fair.

But that wasn’t the only purpose for the trip.

For months, Clare Lydon, Harper Bliss, and I had been discussing working on a trilogy together, and we wanted to set our lesfic universe in the Cotswolds.

I’d driven through the area once or twice when I lived in the UK, but I hadn’t really been there to explore. The three of us, along with Harper’s Mrs., decided to meet up in London and then go on a road trip to the Cotswolds. Four lesbians and a van! Truly, does it ever get more lesbian than that?

It was a fantastic weekend. Not only was it fab to spend time with good friends, but the area is just stunning.

Some of the things we stumbled upon made it into my book, A Shot at Love, book one in The Village Romance series.

Like this adorable dog:

This mill:

A river:

And here’s the inspiration for The Golden Fleece, the pub in my novel.

More importantly, our friendship deepened. Here’s the three of us on one of the bridges.

(From left: Harper Bliss, Clare Lydon, and TB Markinson)

Stay tuned for more updates on the series!

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Stepping back in time

After visiting Waldon Pond, I explored some sites near there, including The Old Manse.

This house was erected by Rev. William Emerson in 1770.  William was the grandfather to Ralph Waldo Emerson, a famous transcendentalist speaker and writer.  

The Old Manse is a beautiful Georgian clapboard building. Along the border of the field is a stone wall that dates back centuries. 

The North Bridge, which played a role in the American Revolutionary War, can be seen from the upstairs. 

This house became the place for prominent transcendentalists to meet to discuss literary, political, and social revolutions. This included Bronson Alcott (father of Louisa May Alcott), Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau.

In 1834, Emerson lived in the house, and he drafted his landmark essay “Nature.”

Nathaniel Hawthorne, who is one of my favorite American gothic writers, and his wife, Sophia Peabody, rented the Old Manse in 1842. Thoreau (remember the dude from Walden Pond?) planted a vegetable garden for the couple. They lived in the home for three years, and during this time, Hawthorne completed most of the stories in Mosses from an Old Manse. The pair left the home when they could not pay the rent. (Even back then, the writing business was hard.)

In 1966, the home was designated a National Historic Landmark and a Massachusetts Archaeological/Historic Landmark.  

Back of the house:

The boathouse:

Stay tuned for a visit to the North Bridge.

 

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