This article was originally published as a guest post May 31, 2015 at Escape with Dollycas
Hello from sunny Lake Erie! (at least from mid-April until late October). I, Maureen Kovach, along with my daughter, Brigette Howard, make up the author entity known as Maureen K. Howard. Together we have penned Sunny Side Up, book one in the Lake Erie Mysteries series. We continue our collaboration as we work to complete book two, Deviled, which will be published later this year. All of the books in this series are set either on the shores or islands of beautiful Lake Erie.
Why Ohio? Why Lake Erie? My love affair with this region of the country began over twenty-five years ago, in 1988, when my husband decided we should become boat owners. I had no idea at the time how this decision would shape my life and the lives of everyone in my family. We lived in Michigan then, and our first experiences boating on the great lakes took place in the Saginaw Bay region, but after enjoying Lake Huron and its pristine, natural beauty for two years, we decided to explore the shores of Lake Erie in search of a new home port that would offer more leisure activities suited to our young children. After a weekend spent driving the shoreline and stopping at every port we encountered along the way, we found an ideal marina located in Marblehead, Ohio. The travel distance to our new summer getaway spot was, to our surprise, no farther than driving north to Caseville, Michigan. The kids are all grown up now, with spouses and children of their own, but we are still members of the same marina and have no desire to move on. In fact, we enjoy the park, the beaches, and the close friends we’ve made over the years even more now that we have grandchildren to entertain. One of the best perks of our location is its proximity to some of the best vacation destinations in the country. Come with me now and visit a few of my favorite places to kick back, relax, and enjoy all that summer at the lake has to offer.
Let’s start our tour at Kelleys Island, a quaint vacation spot in the heart of the Lake Erie islands.
The village of Kelleys Island covers the entire area of the 4.41-square-mile island. There are just over three-hundred residents living in the village year-round, so neighbors all know one-another in all the cozy ways we are familiar with as readers of our favorite genre.
The first stop on the tour is Vi’s Island Treasures. Vi (short for Violet) is the proprietor of this unique gift shop located right next to the historic Kelleys Island Mansion. Behind the signature purple door, you will discover unique, nautical-themed gifts, a fine line of clothing, and beautiful sterling silver and 14kt. gold jewelry. Vi will make sure you leave with a little purple bag engraved in gold script containing just the right gift for someone special. You will recognize many similarities between my friend, Vi, and Ruby Burns, a central character in Sunny Side Up, proprietor of the fictitious Ruby’s Treasure Chest. One similarity that you cannot ignore is the fact that both boutiques, the real and the fictional, are destroyed by fire.
On August 19, 2010, Vi’s original shop on Division Street was destroyed after a fire started in the attic of a neighboring store. The fire quickly spread and destroyed the entire strip of attached businesses. Ohio state fire marshal later ruled the blaze had started after a work lamp was left on in the attic of one of the buildings. Thankfully, no one was injured as a result of the fire.
Sunny Side Up is set on Kelleys Island, but unlike the true story, there is a victim in the fire. The book’s mystery revolves around a charred corpse discovered in the attic of Ruby’s Treasure Chest after it is destroyed in a suspicious fire. The main characters, best friends Francie and June, visit many of the real-life mainstay attractions of the island such as Sea Way Marina and The Caddyshack bar and restaurant as they try to figure out the identity of the mystery corpse, and clear the name of Francie’s husband, Hammond, who seems to have disappeared while circumstantial evidence piles up against him, pointing the finger of guilt in his direction.
The next stop on our jaunt around the lake is the world-renown Cedar Point Amusement Park and Resort. If you like roller coasters, live entertainment, five-star restaurants, water parks and beaches, you should make it a priority to plan a weekend trip to this stellar theme park. The term, amusement park, does not do justice to this destination. You will be far more than amused by everything the resort has to offer. Book a room at the newly-renovated Breakers Hotel which sits at the edge of the water, its soft sandy beach beckoning you to spread out a blanket, unpack your favorite cozy mystery, and rejuvenate your spirit in the sunshine. If you’re in the mood for more adventurous fun, you can book a parasailing lesson or rent a jet-ski and zip around the lake. Whether you want a gourmet meal and a fancy cocktail, or a snow cone and a ride on a state-of- the art roller coaster, you won’t be disappointed by the decision to spend a few days at Cedar Point.
I just noticed that I’m sounding more like a travel agent than an author, but on second thought, as an author, my job is to take you somewhere enjoyable or out-of-the-ordinary so you can forget the details of your everyday life for a few hours and live vicariously through your favorite characters. I would love for you to meet some of the characters in my novels and hope you all enjoy the ride!