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Some of you know that I lived in Germany for three years when I was younger. I traveled throughout Europe when I was there and soaked up as much of the local culture as I could. I loved living in Europe so much that part of me didn’t want to come home. Those years helped shape the person I am today in many ways, both good and bad, and provided the inspiration for several of my books.

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I’ve always believed that I inherited a good dose of wanderlust from my Danish ancestors. When we went on family vacations, my Dad loved to drive down random roads just to see what he would find. I’m a little more structured about what places I go and what I hope to see when I’m there, but just like my Dad, I love stumbling upon quaint places and unique sights.

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My husband also shares my love of traveling and exploring. That’s why we try to get away on a long vacation every year. This year, we’re headed to Czechia. Some of our friends go to the same cabin on the same lake or the same cabin in the same mountain valley every weekend, summer, or year. We like seeing new things each time we go. We’ve also been told by numerous friends to travel while we can, that the window of opportunity when folks have the good health, time and money to travel is narrow and short-lived.

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Maybe you’re at a time in your life when you can’t see the world due to whatever restraints keep you tied to one spot. If so, I’d like to invite you to take a vacation in your imagination. Open a bevy of books and you can read your way around the world. 

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Start by reading NIGHT & DAY or DAYBREAK (by Sherrie Hansen, of course) and experience Copenhagen, Northern Minnesota, Prince Edward Island, the Mississippi River Valley, and The Faroe Islands.

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Next, why not try Scotland? You can visit Loch Awe, Glasgow, and Tobermory, Scotland in THISTLE DOWN (a prequel novella,) and WILD ROSE, the first of my Wildflowers of Scotland novels.

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The lovely Isle of Mull, home of the colorful Tobermory harbor and Duart and Glengorm Castles, Alsace Lorraine, and the French Riviera are featured in BLUE BELLE.

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If the highlands call out to you, you can see the Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle in SHY VIOLET  and SWEET WILLIAM.

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Picturesque Loch Carron, Scotland is the setting of GOLDEN ROD. I love it there so much!

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Maybe you just want a short vacation to someplace cool with lakes and forests galore like the Northwoods of Minnesota. Duluth, Ely, and Embarrass, Minnesota  are featured in LOVE NOTES along with Harmony, California on the Central Coast.

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Are you getting the feel for how far you can go just by cracking open a book? Depending on how fast you read, and how many books you devour in a few days time, you can see the world for less than $20 a week.

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My next book, SEASIDE DAISY, is set in Ireland on the Dingle Peninsula. Ever since I visited Dingle and Killarney three years ago, I’ve been trying to recreate the feel of the place with my words so you can see it through your eyes.  This week, I attended a Songwriting Workshop and wrote a song called Seaside Daisy’s Shanty. I hope it puts you in the mood to visit Ireland when SEASIDE DAISY comes out this fall.

Seaside Daisy’s Shanty by Sherrie Hansen

In the meantime, I’m dreaming about a new book called PLUM TART IRIS set in Czechia, and one after that I think I’ll call COMMON PRIMROSE, set somewhere in Europe. None of us knows exactly what the future holds or where our journey will take us next, but I hope you’ll continue to follow my travels via my blog and Facebook, and accept my invitation to read my books.

The world is waiting!

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Twenty-eight years ago, Sherrie Hansen rescued a dilapidated Victorian house in northern Iowa from the bulldozer’s grips and turned it into a bed and breakfast and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn. Sherrie grew up on a farm in southern Minnesota and has lived in Bar Harbor, Maine, Colorado Springs, CO, and Augsburg, Germany. She attended Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL. After 12 years of writing romance novels late at night when she couldn’t sleep, she met and married her real-life hero, Mark Decker, a pastor. Sherrie lives in 2 different houses, 85 miles apart, and writes on the run whenever she has a spare minute. With her Wildflowers of Scotland novels, “Wild Rose”, “Blue Belle”, “Shy Violet”, “Sweet William” and “Golden Rod”, and her new release, DAYBREAK, the sequel to NIGHT & DAY, she has eleven books in print, most featuring a “second-chance-at-love” story. Sherrie enjoys painting, playing the piano with the worship team at church, photography, decorating historic homes, and traveling. You can learn more about her books by visiting  http://amazon.com/author/sherriehansen

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My perfect day would include my family and friends. I have often thought that for me, heaven would be having all the people I love, who are scattered around the world, in the same place at the same time… a meeting of different worlds.

It would be filled with my favorite music and I would get to play the piano with my musician friends.  Vince Gill and James Taylor and a few others might also be there to sing with us, and Cole and Kayla, who are my rock star family members.

There would have to be flowers… pink roses and bluebells and violets and bleeding hearts from the garden.

I would like to have Grandma Hansen’s Chicken Pie with Grandma Victoria’s fluffy, baking powder biscuits on top. I would also have to have a taste of my homemade jaeger schnitzel on spaetzle noodles. I learned to make it when I lived in Augsburg, Germany and it’s delicious. I won’t even get started on desserts. My favorite day would include stops at a wonderful bakery, or two, to three.

My favorite day might be in Rothenburg or Dinklesbuhl or Provence or Scotland or Denmark. It might involve my favorite places, or someplace new that I’ve always wanted to see. It would be magnificent if I could share all the places I’ve seen with the people I love.

The sky would be blue, the air sweet, the water calm and filled with water lilies. The day would end with my husband – a bit of snuggling, some loving, talking about our day… this would be my perfect day…

What about you?

I received a very warm welcome from Erik and friends at the Danish American Center in Minneapolis yesterday. I spoke about “Night and Day” and its Danish connections, our recent trip to Denmark, and the creative process of writing a book.

My first book, Night and Day (It's Midnight in Minnesota and Daybreak in Denmark...)

The Melting Moments (little Danish butter cookies with almond frosting) I took were a great hit and the book signing went well! My Mom and Dad went along and so did my husband, Mark.

I told several family stories and told about my niece making Danish aebleskivers when I was talking about new generations of Danes. I also told them about the delicious pork roast with the crackled skin and brown gravy that my Danish cousin’s daughter, Anne-Sofie, who is 21 years old, made for us when we were in Hillerod last month. (Red cabbage and new potatoes, too!) My mouth still waters thinking about it! It was so fun getting to know another generation of Danish relatives, who will hopefully keep the family relationships and stories going strong for another several decades!

My Danish cousin, Helle, me, Anna-Sofie, her daughter, and Boyda, her mother, who wrote letters to my Grandma Victoria for decades.

Another of Maren Jensen’s descendants (my Mom’s second cousin, Shirley) also came to hear my presentation and bought a copy of Night and Day for each of her brothers and sisters. It was a great day, and I enjoyed meeting all the fellow Danes at Danebo! I even met a fellow Betsy-Tacy / Maud Hart Lovelace fan!

I’ve been wandering around Europe for the last 3 weeks, and have just returned home. (Happily exhausted.) We were a day and a half late arriving home due to delays at the airport – not long at all considering that a little over a week ago we were listening to reports that this errant volcano might continue to spew ash for 2 years and fearing we might either have to take a steamer home or make a new lives for ourselves in Europe.

Yes, I have a wild imagination. That is what makes me a writer. My imagination has gotten me into trouble on more than a few occasions, but most of the time, it serves me well. Like it or not, I can’t seem to shut if off.

What if…? I wondered constantly, while we explored one country after another…

We were in Switzerland for only one night, so we didn’t get any money switched into Swiss Francs, assuming we would use our credit card as needed. After we checked into our chalet, we  drove into town, parked inside a parking garage and walked around downtown Lucerne until the sun set. We had dinner, then took photos of the lighted buildings reflected in the water of the lake until we were very sleepy. When we went to retrieve our car, we found that the machine would not accept our credit card.

Being stuck inside a parking garage (I hate parking garages, and we were carrying large amounts of cash, which scared me greatly), late at night, in a city we’re unfamiliar with, with no way to call for help (our cell phones didn’t work in Europe – even if they had, whom would we have called?) is not my idea of fun. We started to walk, and thankfully, found a woman who worked in a nearby bar who was willing to trade us some Euros for a few Francs.

We escaped the parking garage unscathed… But what if…

The next day, we drove through the Gotthard Tunnel to Italy and stayed the night at a 400 year old villa with shuttered Romeo and Juliet windows that looked out to the sea. After making multiple trips up 6 flights of stairs with heavy suitcases because we had been told to not to leave any luggage in our car in Italy, we were so tired that we pretended we were Sleeping Beauty instead of Romeo and Juliet. (In the morning, we found out there was an elevator…)

We woke up early and were relieved to find that our car had not been tampered with… But what if…

After we had walked along the sea for several miles, snapped some magnificent photos, and eaten a hearty breakfast, we had a wild ride along the Mediterranean in our little rental car (which was big by Italian standards). My husband was very good at maneuvering his way through and around the narrow streets, traffic congestion and curves. Still, scooters were everywhere, along with millions of people, kids, cars, and bicycles. At some point, we were hungry and thirsty and wanted something to eat and drink. There were no places to pull over or to park for miles on end.

What if… I wondered… What if my husband let me out of the car long enough to grab what I needed while he circled around? Would he ever find me again? Would I ever see him again? The thought was slightly terrifying, and we decided not to risk it.

And then, I started to wonder… What if I didn’t want to be found? What if I wanted a new life? What if, instead of returning to the designated pick-up point, I slipped out the back door of the shop and never came back? What if I simply disappeared?

I had a few hundred dollars, my passport and a credit card in my purse. Where would I go? What would I do? Whom would I trust to help me? Who might I meet? What would happen to me? What would my life look like a few weeks, months, or years down the road?

And then, I was given a new question to ponder, should I ever get tired of asking “What if?”

After relaxing a bit in Provence,  we traveled to Aix-en-Provence, and met a fascinating woman who is a friend of a friend. She grew up just a few miles north of me, in Southern Minnesota.  At some point, after she was divorced and her children were grown, she sold her house and everything she owned and moved to southern France.

“Why?” I asked.

“Pourquoi pas?” she replied, without hesitating.

“Why not?”

I don’t have to tell any of you how dry and mundane every day life can get… That’s why, in exactly 10 days, my husband and I will be leaving for Europe. We’re going for a much needed break, a vacation, to see the sights. But we’re also going in search of inspiration.

We’ll be flying into Stuttgart, Germany on April 6, where we’ll be connecting with an online friend – in person – for the first time.  While staying with her, we hope to enjoy seeing her neighboring areas – Rothenburg, Baden Baden, Strasbourg, France – and wherever she wants to take us. I haven’t been back to Germany since I lived there (1977-1980) and I can’t wait to see it again, especially through her eyes.

On April 11th, we will be picking up our rental car and leaving for Augsburg, where I lived for three years. I’m sure the town and surrounding countryside will have changed immensely, but I look forward to visiting my favorite haunts (those that still exist, and that I am lucky enough to find)! We’ll be staying at the Landgasthof Lindermayr.

On the evening of April 12, we will be at the Schloss Hotel Swiss Chalet on Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. If you are interested, you can have a peek.

April 13, we will be spending the night along the Italian Riviera near Genoa, at Hotel Villa Bonera.

April 14, 15,and 16, we will be staying at the wonderful Le Mas Perreal B&B in Provence, France.

On April 17, we head north again, stopping for the night at Le jardin d’ Elisa.

April 18th, we’ll be back in Stuttgart to say good-bye to Cristina. Then, on April 19th, we fly to Copenhagen, Denmark to see our Danish relatives in Hillerod and Slangerup. We’ll be staying at Rose-House. We leave to fly home on the 23rd, so we should have a lot of time to see our cousins, explore the area around Copenhagen, and even take a day trip to Sweden.

I have just finished Water Lily, the second book of my Maple Valley trilogy, which follows Stormy Weather. In fact, I just sent it off to my publisher (a wonderful feeling). The last book, Merry-Go-Round, is written in rough draft form, and needs a lot of revisions. As soon as I’ve completed it, I plan to move to Europe, at least in my mind.

I’ve already written a book set in Tobermory, Scotland called Blue Belle of Scotland. It is almost ready to submit. A second in the series, Wild Rose of Scotland, is about 1/3 of the way done, and was inspired after we stumbled upon St. Conan’s Kirk on Loch Awe, a wonderful church in the Scottish countryside. I really should finish itas soon as I’m done with Merry-Go-Round …

And then… who knows which of the countries or gasthofs we visit will become the setting for my next book…? I am so ready to be inspired… so open to new ideas… just waiting for the person, scene or occurence that will spark my imagination… and result in the birth of a new story.  I have no idea if it will occur in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, Denmark, or Sweden – maybe all of the above. But I know it will be there – the kernel of insight, a gem of wisdom, a beautiful vista – something will call out to me and an idea will be born.

Have you had a similar experience when traveling? If so, I’d love to hear where your story idea was born!

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Daybreak – New Release! (Sequel to Night & Day)

Night and Day

Golden Rod

Sweet William

Shy Violet

Blue Belle

Wild Rose

Thistle Down

Love Notes

Stormy Weather

Water Lily

Merry Go Round

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