The Emerald City/ECWC part 1

Seattle is the home of this addictive company, second only to the power of Canada’s Tim Horton’s.

Guess where I was a couple weeks ago.  Here’s a hint.  This is a local coffee shop in every sense of the word. (Truthfully, these photos are from last year because I don’t like advertising my location on the ‘net when I’m not home.)

In case you didn’t guess,  I was in Seattle to attend the Emerald City Writers Conference, a fabulous 3 day romance writing event put on by the Greater Seattle chapter of the Romance Writers of America.  It was my second time attending (my first was October 2011) and I may try to make it back for 2013.

Seattle is one of those places I’ve always wanted to go. I don’t have a particular reason; it just appealed to me.  Perhaps it has something to do with being on the coast.  (Why is this exciting? Look at a map.  Find both coasts.  Find the point in the middle farthest from each one.  That’s Winnipeg.)  I liked the idea of Seattle so much, I set my first romance there.  Attending ECWC let me achieve two goals at once. I got to explore my dream destination and attend a professional writing conference.

See that floating house? Not that one, the one beside it. That’s Tom Hanks’ house from “Sleepless in Seattle, a must see for all romance writers. Worth over $1,000,000.

The first thing I learned was that Seattle isn’t actually on the west coast.  It looked closer on the map!  It looked like it was at the end of an inlet that emptied into the Pacific.  Up close, not so much.  I did get to see the Pacific when I flew in from Vancouver, so I wasn’t completely disappointed.  (Also, I totally didn’t stake out the gate for flights to L.A. in the Vancouver airport during my somewhat extended layover in hopes of seeing a TV actor.  That would be creepy. I’d say stalker-y but since I wouldn’t have had a specific target, that is not quite the right word.  I didn’t see one.  At my gate to Seattle, I mean.)

Ride the Ducks of Seattle – a highly recommended 90 minute tour of downtown Seattle by land and from the harbour. A lot of fun!

The second thing I learned when I arrived for the Emerald City Writers Conference was that the conference was not named after Dorothy’s destination in “The Wizard of Oz.”  Seattle was really, really, REALLY green for the end of October.  Coming from Winnipeg where the leaves had fallen weeks earlier, it was a pleasant surprise.

One of the sights of Gas Works Park.

I got into Seattle early and got to take a tour with the Ride the Ducks of Seattle. If you ever have the chance, I highly recommend it.  The tour was a lot of fun and I got to see downtown Emerald City from the streets and from the harbour. One of the highlights for me is the next picture. Unfortunately, my tour day was overcast but you must see Gas Works Park in the sunshine.  The rust red sculptures/works, the green grass and trees, and the blues of the water and the sky are stunning.  This photo does it no justice at all.

Pike’s Place Market. Home of the original Starbucks. They even named a coffee after it. Please excuse the SUV; it wasn’t there when I started pressing the shutter button.

After the tour (which starts and ends downtown), I walked a few blocks and explored Pike’s Place Market.  Do you know what people in the movies wandering through PPM never mention?  It smells like fish.  Granted, it’s a fish market but the people on screen never make faces at the smell so I was caught off guard.

Since I’d set my story in Seattle, my first-hand research paid off.  I was able to correct Seattle’s location in my manuscript and add some details that I never would have known about otherwise.  I got to explore my dream city.  And I learned a lot and made some great new friends at the conference, which is a story for another day.