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Steamboat Springs, Colorado

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Skaneateles, New York

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Settings to any novel are integral to the plot and play an important part in the story. I have intertwined the two settings into the lives of the characters to where it’s not just another place; it helps define them and how they live their lives. This is true to most stories, but I tried to go further with it. It’s not just a lake: it’s “the Lake”.   It’s not just another ski town: it’s “Ski Town USA”.


     This used to be on a t-shirt from Skaneateles, New York when I was a kid. Most people can’t say it, let alone find it (go ahead--try and say it aloud). The quaint eastern town is a tourist attraction in the summer and the residents enjoy peaceful small-town life. It is Native American (Iroquois) meaning “long lake”. The Finger Lake region stretches roughly east to west from Syracuse to Buffalo and south of those cities. Skaneateles is the second in line from the east and runs about 16 miles long and a mile wide. It has many attributes, but the most unique is the water itself. Fed by a large underground aquifer, its water is some of the cleanest in the world.  It is very deep for its size (other lakes-Cayuga and Seneca-run around 40 miles long) and the aquifer keeps the water very clean and very cold.

     The picturesque scenery from the countryside around the lake is akin to them all: rolling hills, farmland, woods, and wine country. I spent my youth on this body of water and it is more a part of me than I ever realized then. There is nothing like sitting on a dock with a beverage of choice, my guitar, a full moon and softly the lapping water, or spending hot summer days on a boat on what I affectionately call “my Lake”.
     The other setting for the novel, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, is stark in contrast to New York. It’s the northernmost ski resort in Colorado sitting on the Continental Divide and dubbed, “Ski Town USA”. It contains the most Olympians from any one town in the U.S.  It is a real western town with ranchers, cowboys, and a rodeo in the summer. The winter is all about the mountain and how you get down it. It owns another coined term: “Champagne Powder”.   Locals move there for it and never leave for the same reason.

     The Rockies are vast, unforgiving, beautiful and breathtaking. It’s sublime, and I feel small there on the mountain. It’s easy to achieve a different perspective on how you view the world at 10,000 feet and able to see for miles upon miles in every direction. The people in Steamboat are friendly and welcoming, and as life revolves around what is offered by nature, it simplifies things for a little while and increases one’s appreciation for what really matters.

A very special thanks to the following for contributing their photographs to the site:

Melissa Owens Bailey

Vintage photos from Paul Williams: From Skaneateles Lake, by Paul and Charles N. Williams.  Arcadia Publishing, 2002.

Bryan Hess

Anders Eriksson

Marti Wood

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