While on vacation, but of course!
It was an unexpected offer. My cousin, Kristin, sent me a Facebook message one day (because my generation communicates by Facebook Messenger, right?) with a proposition for us. Their fifteen-year-old Maltese (yes, you read that right. Fifteen-year-old tiny dog) needed a dog sitter. Kristin and her family were flying to Hawaii for my a wedding and their adorable little pup, Frosty, was too old and scared of traveling to make the trip. As they lived in a charming lake house on Little Lake Muskego in Wisconsin, she wondered if my family and I would want to come stay in their house for a week to vacation and watch Frosty.
Hmm...let me think about that. Stay for free in a lake house and help my cousin at the same time? Yup!
So The Mowers clan kicked off Summer 2018 with a road trip to Muskego, Wisconsin. Are you familiar with Little Lake Muskego? I was not. I had never been to Wisconsin before. All I knew was that my cousin had a the cutest little place on a beautiful lake and it was worth the nine hour drive with small children.
Kristin's family and mine were like two ships passing in the night. Because of our school schedule, we couldn't get to Kristin's house until the day they left, missing them by only a few hours. Luckily, Frosty was never left alone for a minute. Kristin's friends came to stay with her all morning until we could arrive. And my cousin is pretty awesome because she left us notes around her house with instructions on anything we might have questions about. She and I are quite similar in that regard. Hospitality means making your guest feel comfortable, and I am most comfortable when I know what the heck I'm doing.
My family and I settled in to a week of...relaxing. We grilled hot dogs, we kayaked, we sat on the edge of the dock and fished for bass. I lounged on the beach with Frosty on my lap, watching my children play in the sand. And the entire time I kept a notepad and pen beside me. Muskego, I quickly determined, was a beautiful setting for a love story. As I write for Harlequin Heartwarming, a line of books that focuses on romance, family and community, I knew that Little Lake Muskego could be the next community for my book.
But what would my characters do for a living? How would living on the lake be essential for them? What romantic events could happen nearby?
I took pictures of the sunset and tried to identify every shade of orange.
We walked down the road to watch the Water Bugs Ski Show and I knew I just HAD to include it in my story somehow.
Yes, job number one was taking good care of Frosty. Job number two was plotting out my next book and finding inspiration for every scene big and small while admiring the charming little town my cousin and her family called home.
I suppose inspiration can come from anywhere. Sometimes it comes while snuggling the world's cutest dog while wriggling your feet in the sand.