Inspiration is everywhere. Even here—I took this picture above outside of my window in New York. Yep, that’s a SWAT team and a burning Jeep. They were filming the movie Birdman (due in 2014).

When the idea to write a book about a New York house sitter and her sexy mysterious client struck me, I immediately wrote 250 words. It was a prologue—just enough to catch a sense of the character’s voice. It was sweet and sharp and feisty. It had guts. I gave it to my editor who said it had strong potential. As in: drop that chick lit book you’ve been worrying over forever and start fresh.

Do you know what Roald Dahl did when the idea for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory came to him? He was driving on a country road and had no pen or paper to write down his idea. So he pulled over, got out of the car and wrote the word “chocolate” in dust on the bumper with his fingertip. Talk about snagging an idea and holding it tight!

I read the house sitter prologue to a few friends. I kept it front-of-mind. And then while on a Facebook chat with an author-friend who mentioned she was heading to New York, the idea materialized: I would go to New York to research this book!

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In Tattoo Thief, Beryl reconnects with her Oregon roots with frequent visits to Central Park.

In less than an hour I had flights, accommodations, plans with friends in NY and a burgeoning list of places to go and awesome stuff to see. I was going to soak up the city and see it as Beryl does in Tattoo Thief, for the first time.

This post isn’t about writing a story. It’s about living it. I’ve included a few photos from my real New York trip that inspired scenes from Tattoo Thief:

The movie set (pictured at top).

When I arrived in New York, the first human who spoke to me was a production assistant from Birdman asking me to cross the street because they were filming. (And, being a New York newbie, I thought that was cool.)

Central park’s bagpiper.

I got up extra-early for a walk in Central Park before the humidity wilted me. My reward was a bagpipe serenade.

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Inspiration for Beryl’s first date with Anthony at Balthazar.

Balthazar (above).

Despite ridiculous humidity, this girl looked just-pressed fresh. (In fact, I could never get over how cool New York women looked, despite the humidity.) This girl’s date looked rough around the edges, but he was clearly into her.

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Sant Ambroeus (above).

I ate at this West Village restaurant on a recommendation from a friend and drank far too much sangria for my own good. Sitting at the sidewalk table I saw and heard many of the things Beryl experiences on her disastrous date night with Gavin.

At a nearby restaurant, The Spotted Pig, I chatted with a bartender named Gavin while I tried to puzzle out what my character’s tattoo would be. Bartender-Gavin was super-helpful (though I didn’t figure it out over my lunch there) and so I ended up stealing his name for my main character, the rock star.

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Famous people (like Siva, above).

In addition to running with a crowd of 100 screaming girls to follow the band The Wanted through Times Square, I had plenty of other famous sightings including Edward Norton and Bruce Willis. It’s enough to make this Oregon girl star-struck.

Tattoo Thief is now available for KindleNookKobo, iBooks (link to come) and in print.

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