Girly Books Blog Hop: Location! Location! Location!

Girly Books Blog Hop: Location! Location! Location!

It’s that time again… Time for some of your favorite authors, and sure-to-become-favorite authors, to get together and have a blast writing on a topic together. Our job: This time around to each entertain and enlighten you about one of our beloved locations in writing, the setting that really inspires us and our characters. Your job: To “hop” to these blogs, one by one, and leave comments if you want to qualify for the amazing GRAND PRIZE our hostess Libby Mercer has assembled. It’s pretty darn impressive, I tell you! (And a huge thanks to Libby for putting this all together!) You can also get a chance to receive a smaller prize when you comment below!

Come meet one of my favorite places in the world!
Come meet one of my favorite places in the world!

So what exotic port of call can you expect to be transported to from my Crazy Shed? A city of romance and magic. A place where people fall in love and find themselves and dreams really do come true…

Ladies and gentlemen (because I know dudes are here reading these), allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite places on Planet Earth: Bayside, Queens, New York City!
Beautiful Bayside! (We used to live to the left of that bus.)

Crazy, this town. I wasn’t born there, but I was born as a writer of fiction there. I didn’t grow up (to age 21) there, but I grew into a woman (from ages 23-35, on and off) there. I met my husband there. Came back there after our wedding and honeymoon. Brought our first child home. It’s fair to say my heart is there, no matter where I happen to live now.

I think that’s the reason all my stories are set in Bayside.

Those who know my work know I have a tendency to jump genres, but there are two significant threads that make my stories mine: They always involve a lost soul finding her (and could be his at some point, you never know) way. And they are always set in this unexpected town.

The apartment Amy shared with David in Rita Hayworth’s Shoes, where the neighborhood guys act as a “Greek chorus” of sorts on the front stoop. The Aberdeen Funeral Home, where Amy first meets Deck. The college where they work, Stratton University. In The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything, Mina heads to Bayside for her appointment at the Pearls of Wisdom Dental Spa, and both Char-a’tee Pryce and Alex seem to live there.

Bayside is a real place, so of course it begs the question: Do I use real locations in my stories?

While I’m sure the wacky Aberdeen and over-the-top Pearls of Wisdom would both do killer business in Bayside, neither of these places, alas, is real. However, the diner where everyone always seems to meet up is. The Omega is an old-fashioned coffee-shop kind of joint on 32nd Avenue off of Francis Lewis Blvd., and it is one of the kindest establishments imaginable. I can’t even begin to count the number of keystrokes I made there back in the day, or the number of French fries I consumed…

Ah, the Omega! That's the owner, John, on the right. A very kind man. A very cool place.
Ah, the Omega! That’s the owner, John, on the right. A very kind man. A very cool place. (A terrible picture, I know, but I stole it from the Internet. Can you imagine that this was the only one I could find? I mean, it’s the Omega for cripes sake!)

One of the places I really wish I could visit, though, is the fictional Smitty’s. For a divey second-hand store, it sure gets a lot of action. It’s in Smitty that Amy falls for the magic shoes, and Mina finds the dragonfly-topped perfume bottle that re-sparks her mojo. Smitty’s is already playing prominently in two of my WIPs: as both a once-elegant home goods store turned dump in one, and a portal to ancient Greece in another. (Oh yeah. That’s true.) I wonder what kind of magic could be found in Smitty’s if it were real? Hmmmm….

Anyway, while I only lived in Bayside about 25% of my life, it remains my favorite place on earth. Except for Tuscany. And St. Martin. And Paris. Oh, and the South of France. But it’s right up there with them. And while hundreds, thousands of others have penned stories that unfold in all these other wonderful and exotic places, I bet there’s only a handful of us (or maybe just me) who feels such an inspired affinity for this quaint, quasi-suburban town.

And now for the rest of the writers on this tour. Please click on the links you’ll find below and enjoy the journey! If no links show for you because I am techo-challenged, simply click here, and you’ll be taken to the page of someone who knows what she’s doing… In any case, please be sure to leave me a comment about your most inspiring place, and you’ll get a chance to win a FREE ebook, set in, you guessed it, Bayside! Choose the quirky psychological drama / mystery The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything or the screwball rom-com Rita Hayworth’s Shoes. You’ll also win a $10 gift card you can use to discover more books…like ones from the other authors listed below.

Happy travels!



33 thoughts on “Girly Books Blog Hop: Location! Location! Location!

  1. I smiled and giggled all through your post, Francine. I love that you lived to the left of that bus. ::-)! Is Bayside anywhere near where the stories in King of Queens play out? That’s one of my favorite sitcoms.


  2. Great post! I can’t believe I didn’t catch the overlap in your two books. I loved both of them and guess I was just too engrossed in the story to pick up on your use of Smitty’s in both books – If you do it in your third, I promise to notice πŸ™‚


  3. I never get to hear much about the specific differences between NYC boroughs…very cool! I tend to gravitate toward any place that offers mind-blowing coffee, books, or records…



  4. Oh, how fun that you’ve got Smitty’s as a common thread through all these different works! I remember it fondly from The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything. Will definitely watch out for it when I dive into Rita Hayworth’s Shoes, which I cannot wait to do. Great post, Francine! Couple of things: first of all, I’m very glad that Pearls of Wisdom is not a real place. πŸ™‚ And second, I had a lengthy LOL session when I discovered that your “someone who knows what she’s doing” link went to my site. Oh, if only I did! Thanks for the smiles and laughs, and thanks so much for participating in the hop!!


  5. Bayside sounds like a great place. The photo of Omega has so many mouthwatering goodies in it. The most inspiring place would be the Grand Canyon.

    strive4bst(At) yahoo(Dot) com


  6. I’m not sure I have found my most inspiring place yet, although Stonington Bourough in CT is amazingly beautiful and could be an option. Another option would probably be Barkerville, British Columbia, Canada (look it up, you won’t regret it!). Oh, and if I spent more time in San Fransisco, that might possibly just be the one. Maybe one day I will find out!

    dreammie_angel at yahoo dot com


  7. Hi, Francine. Like you I have such an fondness for neighborhoods and small towns. A little bakery went under where I live and I was completely undone because it was such a special place. And isn’t that an excellent commentary on these mom and pops and delis. They are beloved by customers yet pay no attention to the Internet or their own online presence. They’re too busy working! So glad I dropped by. Your books sound intriguing and well worth reading,


  8. I love seeing Bayside after reading “The Girl, The Gold Tooth and Everything.” Your novel blew me away so to see where Pearls of Wisdom is set was wonderful for me. Now, off to read “Rita Hayworth’s Shoes”!

    Samantha Stroh Bailey


  9. the area i grew up in, in Florida it was 15 minutes outside Orlando and everyone always talked about Disney but we never went as children instead we would fish and play in the lake behind our house unworried about the gators that lived in it. playing barefoot tell our feet were the color of the red clay that made up the drive of the complex i remember it all still so fondly.
    kaholgate at ymail dot com


    1. It’s funny that you never see the attractions around where you’re from. My kids have never been to the Empire State Building and I have never been to the Statue of Liberty, amazingly enough! Going to have to change that this year. Thanks for writing!


  10. My favorite place is a beach in Sarasota that you can’t get to my vehicle or at certain times of the day. It’s littered with amazing, huge pieces of driftwood, and rarely has many people there. In sum: perfect beach ever.



  11. Now that I know Rita Hayworth’s Shoes is also set in Bayside, I am looking forward to it even more. Good to see these places in photos, as although I’ve been to NYC 3 times, never been to that part of the city.So many places inspire me, but it would be safe to say that the Scottish and Italian countrysides top that list. Sooz


  12. Thanks for the giveaway/hop. Rita Hayworth’s Shoes sounds like a great read! It has been wonderful discovering so many new blogs and authors.


  13. This was a fab post. It makes me realize how little I do to explore/exploit settings in my stories. I definitely am inspired to ramp up the setting factor. I, too, missed Smitty’s. And it was so important in both! Thanks for an enlightening and lightening (as in humorous) post. I really enjoyed it!


  14. I love New York! I lived in Queens for a wile and adore reading about places I know!


  15. I NEED to explore New York some day and it is definitely on my bucket list. If Smitty’s ever happens to become real, I would definitely visit there! I love second hand stores and the unique, vintage items you find. Your books sound amazing and I am heading over to Amazon to add them to my wish list now. Ohhh and Omega, I think I need to go there!

    Best wishes,


  16. The most inspiring place for me would have to be Ireland. My husband and I went almost 8 years ago, and it was gorgeous! We were lucky that it didn’t rain the entire time we were there, but got to see a few rainbows. I would go back in a heartbeat!


  17. OMGOSH – I totally read the first few lines wrong at first and thought you said you lived ON the bus. A quick, ‘huh’ and a reread fixed that, but yeah. What a cute town! I can see why you’d live there AND put your characters there πŸ™‚


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