For the past two weeks I was on vacation, on a bus tour of the Canadian Maritimes. It
was eye-opening, making me realize that I know almost nothing about the history of the country right next door to mine.
We toured Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, visited a ton of museums and parks and ate copious amounts of seafood. Aside from learning a little about the earliest colonies of our next-door nation, I also had a chance to observe a professional tour guide at work.
Rod was Australian, with an Aussie accent you could spread with a Vegemite knife. One of the popular tropes in romance is “competence porn” and Rod personified that. No matter what was thrown at him, he handled it élan. (Not to be confused with elan, the mysterious magical substance in Jilly’s soon-to-be-released fantasy romance series.)
Example: A week before our tour started, Dorian landed in Nova Scotia as a Category 1 hurricane. Although that’s clearly less devastating than the number it did on the Bahamas, when it was a Category 5, it left much of the province without power for several days, which meant Rod had to re-book all the hotels and restaurants on the fly while keeping up with the ongoing, day-to-day work of the tour.
One evening over dinner, I asked him to describe the most difficult thing he’d ever had to deal with as a tour guide, figuring Dorian probably topped the list. Nope. He said the worst thing was a couple in their 80’s who decided, mid-tour, that they wanted a divorce—and expected him to act as their marriage counselor. The other issues he described were equally people-oriented.
Which made me think what a great premise for a romance series this could be.
I’ve been wanting to write a contemporary series that would be more tightly linked than my demon series, which shares a few characters, and a common setting (Hell), but has no series arc to pull readers from book to book. So, with help from Rod and some of my fellow-travelers who have taken many, many of these tours, I devised an idea for a series about a family of siblings who grew up in the tour business in Sedona, AZ. Following the untimely death of their parents, they have to figure out how to go forward with the company, which is not only their livelihood, but their parents’ legacy, juggling all the dysfunctions and competing goals of any normal American family.
I have the series arc plotted out and a good handle on the GMC for the first book. I even managed to write about 700 words of a first scene on Friday at the hotel and on my flight back to the U.S.
Unfortunately, I arrived home with the cold from Hell—or, more accurately, from Oklahoma, since the nice couple who so generously shared it with me hailed from the Sooner state. Expect to hear more about this series once I’m back on my feet.
In the meantime, enjoy a few pictures I took in the Maritimes.