Jeanne: What I Did on My Autumn Vacation

For the past two weeks I was on vacation, on a bus tour of the Canadian Maritimes. It

Green Gables

Green Gables, Prince Edward Island, Canada

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.)

Canadian bees

Even their bees are polite and cooperative

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.

Cape Breton fog

Cape Breton, Land of Fog

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.


John, the evangelist, represented as an eagle, seen in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia

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.

14 thoughts on “Jeanne: What I Did on My Autumn Vacation

  1. Sounds like a fab trip! If you want any more ideas of the crazy things that happen on a tour, let me know. My parents’ neighbor is a tour guide. He speaks German, so most of his tours are for Germans (might be fun to get examples of translations gone awry). He’s done just about everything. Good luck with the new story idea. It sounds wonderful (and I love where you’re setting it!).

    • I’m planning to come to AZ in February and work out a tour design. The plot of the first book follows the eldest brother’s attempt to expand the business from Jeep tours of Sedona to a trip that encompasses all of AZ (which means buying an expensive bus, something his siblings don’t necessarily support).

      So the purpose of the setting was to come up with a place that would allow that kind of growth. I thought about SFO or Seattle, but I’d rather do my research in AZ. And since Keeffe and Bad live in Sedona, they can have cameo roles.

      Feel free to interrogate your neighbor about funny/amazing/horrifying things that have happened on trips and pass those stories along to me!

      • Sorry about the cold, but your holiday sounds amazing. Love the sound of this new series, the setting and the community!

        My brother works in tourism and has Jeep and truck tours, buggies, bicycles, you name it…. Earlier this year his company won a Travellers’ Choice award from TripAdvisor, Best Excursion in the Caribbean or something like that. He’s worked in the industry most of his life and I’m sure would be glad to help with plot points or war stories.

  2. Congratulations on taking a vacation and figuring out your next series! The travel agency/tour guide theme sounds like fun. Oh, the places you’ll go! Imagine the tax-deductible trips in your future. 🙂

  3. It’s a beautiful part of our country and while I am a HUGE fan of Anne, I found Anne of Green Gables part of PEI too much. If you ever come to Ontario, Leaskdale has a great museum in the once-home of its author Lucy Maud Montgomery as well as the church where her husband was a minister: . Good luck with your book series. Can you please not use the word “untimely death”. All death is untimely, particularly for those left behind.

  4. Great pictures and what a wonderful story! Canada has got connections with Australia (both Commonwealth countries) and then there’s the working holiday visa that lets young folk “try before they buy” — I think immigration/emigration is a lot more free, so you can get a hot Australian tour guide working legally in the country. I love this idea! Arizona and that area is such a hot spot; I know of a lot of Japanese tourists who are attracted to the American Southwest, and they come back with tales of meeting all sorts of folks!

    LOL, I’m sure you won’t go in this direction, but the Area 51 brou-ha-ha would also be ripe for a series, particularly if it becomes an annual festival.

    Looking forward to seeing it, and I hope your cold gets knocked out soon!

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