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Manual typewriterResearch is one of my favorite parts of the writing process. It’s an intriguing exploration into worlds-yet-unknown, where the story comes to life and becomes real.  I had a few final details to research in Manhattan for my project, which was major reason behind my coast hopping to New York City in early February. (pic by moi)

Yes, I went to NYC to attend the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Winter Conference (NY13SCBWI), which was wonderful in all the ways such conferences are. But I had another agenda too… Research.

The Character of Central Park Landmarks…

My project takes place in and around New York City’s Central Park, and a couple of the landmarks played such an important role in the story that they became characters themselves…

Cleopatra’s Needle: The oldest man-made object in Central Park
Image by Central Park Conservancy, the organization responsible for restoring and maintaining Central Park’s historic beauty.


Belvedere Castle: Built in 1869 by Calvert Vaux
Image by Central Park Conservancy

Belvedere Castle, Central Park NYC

Her Way is the Subway…

Most New Yorkers use public transportation to get around town. My protagonist is no different. She uses the subway, so I followed in her footsteps. There beneath the streets of Manhattan, I discovered the amazing signage from a bygone era (pic by moi)…

86th Street Subway Tile marker

Historical Ruins in the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is important to my protagonist and her story as well, so I had to experience the collection first-hand. What impressed me most (and I was an art major, so I’ve been to lots of art museums) is that The Met houses reconstructed historical rooms and ruins … not just the typical types of art (pics by moi)…

Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

Serendipity 3: Frozen Hot Chocolate

Like many teenagers, my protagonist loves coffee and chocolate. And what better place to meet her friends than Serendipity 3? While conspiring, they consume coffee drinks and Serendipity’s world-famous Frozen Hot Chocolate. Which is to die for, by the way (pics by moi)…

Serendipity 3, NYC

The Plaza … Of course!

My next stop was The Plaza Hotel, where my protagonist’s grandfather owns a private suite. Yes, on the top floor … one with a turret. Eloise does not have anything to do with my story, but I had to take this picture because nothing says “The Plaza” like Eloise. The photo on the right is of The Palm Court restaurant (pics by moi)…

The Plaza Hotel, NYC

Hiding Out at The Waldorf Astoria…

Last but not least was a visit to The Waldorf  Astoria, where my protagonist is forced to go into hiding. Yeah, I know. Tough break sistah. You might wish you had her financial backing … but you don’t want the problems tied to it. Trust me.

The lobby of The Waldorf Astoria is an architectural marvel…


How do you discover your character’s world?

Ellen Gregory’s recent post on her “research” experience with beads and braids, inspired me to share this pictorial research tour.

What type of research helps you discover your character’s world?