Finding Worlds through Words

Peopling worlds. That’s what we writers do, isn’t it?

I’m no longer sailing Mexican waters or dropping anchor in some exotic spot. Some mornings, I wake longing to feel that gentle roll under Sea Venture’s hull. Oh, we’ll be back on board for short trips north or south, but coming home to care for a loved one changes the cadence of life.

Finding ways to embrace these changes, I listen and watch.

As sailors, we visited exotic towns, met and played with folk from many countries.

Loreto, MX


In the Sea of Cortez, the language of conversation and of social interaction held a certain lilt, an often smiling delight in simple things.

Cruising friends jigging for trigger fish

Here, laughs from chance-met folk need more coaxing, more nurturing. Perhaps that’s because most land-based folk have worlds of their own already secured, friends already established, places they go to eat and chat, things they do that take their time. Perhaps the busyness of life forces them to hurry on past.

Cruisers are the odd folk in different worlds, the strangers who congregate to find a common ground, even if that commonality surrounds the places they’ve visited or the adventures lived and yet to live. Cruisers make fast friendships and hold to these from anchorage to anchorage, country to county, even when they return to life as a dirt dweller.


Peopling stories from the land-bound places I’ve been and folk I’ve imagined — or pieced from the chance-met and the almost-known — I enter into new worlds, new smells, new sounds. Shouts and cries that resonate because of place and circumstance, because of accents and histories and the soil in which each grew, become the fodder for a new universe.


Beaufort, NC



How do you find your worlds? What in your life pushes you toward the stories you write?  If you craft fantasy, suspense, romance, or horror, what propelled you in that direction? What made you want to create those worlds?

Please leave me a note. Let’s talk settings and worlds.



29 Replies to “Finding Worlds through Words”

  1. love this post – it reminds me that each of us is living our own story, and through whichever setting we can influence the life you live.
    I love reading and writing fantasy, and I realize now that it is because of the place
    i grew up in and the memories i have treasured. thank you 🙂

    1. Nicua, when I look at your photographs, I want to write stories about them. I can see so easily how you find your fantasy worlds!

      1. That is lovely to hear! I always enjoy taking photos and trying to find that elusive magical moment, so glad you enjoy them 🙂

  2. Beautiful post, Normandie. I suppose because I am no longer in New Hampshire, my settings often center around that lovely place I called home for 23 years. Not that I don’t love Oklahoma, I do. But while I live here on the plains and in the heat, I long for pine trees and rainy days and fall foliage and snow. I long for the mountains, the sea, the Boston skyline, and the lakes so clear you can see the bottom.

    My worlds often start there, in that setting, and with the people I knew growing up, the lives we lived back then. In my youth, I was surrounded by unbelievers, and I was lukewarm at best. I remember so well the desperation of that life, the seeking of happiness, of love, in all the wrong things. Those are the people who populate my stories. That’s why I say I write stories of astounding grace–because I know people who need astounding, shocking, even scandalous grace. I recognize them because I am one.

    1. Love that, Robin. The places that nurture us, for good or ill, make wonderful story worlds, especially if we glean lessons from them. The what-ifs of life…

  3. I always loved history and historical fantasy. I’ve always loved imagining what it would’ve been like to live in *insert current obsession* time/place in history. My favorite epic fantasy is strongly tied to solid historical detail. For example, I was always more interested in the origins and lineage of the Númenoreans and the Rohirrim than in hobbit and dragon lore.

    I became fascinated by the Germanic tribe of the Goths at a young age, when I heard that Tolkien based the Riders of Rohan on the Gothic horse warriors of the Caucasian steppe. Hence, my trilogy is rooted in the epic culture clash of the Goths and the ancient Roman Empire in the Danube River valley. I have no dragons, elves or wizards, but making it a fantasy frees me to mix in culture, religion, mysticism, etc, at will. Very freeing!

    Great photos, and fun post, Normandie!

    1. Oh, Vaughn, you make me eager to read it. I also prefer the fantasy that isn’t fairy-based, the Greek myths, the tribes and fables that have their roots in history. I’m glad you find your world-building freeing. That’s how I feel about mine, even though it’s based in the present.

      I think that many writers craft story worlds because only there can we be in control. Oh, I know that our characters often take off and tell us what they’re up to, but we can rein them in, can’t we?

      Keep me posted about your progress. I’ll be watching for those books!

  4. Beautiful imagery, N. – and Robin.

    Life’s pain and redemption propel me onward in writing love stories filled with the contrast of love experienced in the world to that of the romance of heaven. All kinds of people, and maybe especially my own twists and turns, form composites for characters who echo the strains of living in sin and sainthood.

    1. Ah, Nicole, we tell our stories and we share our paths out of the mire, don’t we? Thanks for my times of dipping my toes into your various worlds.

    2. I love this: “The contrast of love experienced in the world to that of the romance of heaven.” We all long for a love story because He put that longing inside of us. And He longs to fulfill it with Himself and the perfect gifts He gives us. To tell that story to a lost world–what a privilege.

  5. (I probably shouldn’t admit I’ve seen this film, but that picture of Loreto reminds me of “Once Upon A Time in Mexico”.) 😉

    1. Well, you have me there, Nicole. I’ve never seen the film, but Loreto became one of our home ports as we anchored about 8 miles away in a gorgeous cove off Isla Coronado. We’d up anchor every Sunday and motor in the calm of early morn to anchor off the town and spend the day replenishing our stores at the farmers market. We’d eat a lunch in town and buy ice cream (sorbet for me) in liter containers that we’d dole out in bites to last the week. Such a glorious life. And the fun thing is that we could still maintain contact with the world by 3-G even at anchor.

  6. What a creative post, Normandie! Thank you for the idea of writing worlds. Mine come from the experiences of people around me and those places where I swim along with them. Since my books are character driven, I look for ways the world fashions people and how we change within our settings. But my heart is always in New Mexico, in the art world of Santa Fe and Taos, in the southwestern foods and the glimpse of mountains just beyond the sunset.

    1. Lovely, RJ. I can see those sunsets and those mountains. Do you use them as settings for your stories? Mine are also character driven, but sometimes settings become almost a character. Certainly, the places influence the characters to choices they might not make if they were plopped down elsewhere.

  7. The pleasure’s all mine, Robin.

    N, I wouldn’t suggest you see that contemporary version of a spaghetti western, but seeing that building did indeed somehow remind me of it. Love that picture of Loreto, and I can hear your heart cry for those days . . .

    1. Yes, ma’am. But there’s a purpose in all things, isn’t there? All we have to do is seek it out and look for the good.

  8. Normandie, as ever your posts are mini stories themselves full of the lure of the sea and the pleasures of the ports. You’re a word artist.

    1. David, aren’t you a dear! Thank you so much. I love words and the magic of them.

  9. Normandie, there is plenty of choice, whether they are the most beautiful places or who describes them 😉

  10. Hi Normandie, I’m a sailor also, small boats to deep water ships. I live in Hawaii and long to sail to New Zealand and Costa Rica. My stories are based in Polynesian and Asian Myth. Now, I find a new spirit jumping out at me, “Hey you, over here, see me over here. Tell my story,” around and in valleys all over the island. I swear, this rock grows ghosts.
    Aloha, Jan

    1. Jan, what fun to meet you! I was born in Hawaii, but only remember the visit my husband and I made in 2005 to the island of Maui. I’m picturing the trips you are planning, the roundabout to Costa Rica, the voyage across to New Zealand, and I’m sighing. What tales you’ll have to tell. We have a friend, Gary, with whom we spent many happy days in Mexico and with whom we’d talked of buddy-boating, who took his small craft (alone) and made the crossing westward a couple of years ago. He’s now in Australia, sending us SPOT messages and trying to make us regret turning left instead of right at the Canal.

      Don’t you love it when something cries out for a story? Those rocks and trees, the lore of islands, the histories into which you can tap. Please keep me posted as you build these story worlds. I’d love to take a peek.

      1. I spent my 20’s and 30’s on Maui. Used to sail the triangle between Maui, Molokai and Lanai. I have followed the tales of Maui, and his mother Hina. I have a Maori magazine from New Zealand and in it there was an article and picture of Maui’s grandmother! You know I have to go. It’s wonderful to find you too, lost sister.

  11. I found you on She Writes website, checking it out to see if I want to create a page and join the community. Your name was picked randomly, but then I discovered a we have a lot in common–mainly both writers who have lived on boats and traveled a lot. Our family spent two years in the Sea of Cortez then headed west and comleted circumnaviagtion four years later (total 6 years living aboard a cruising sailboat.) Anyway, I just started a blog “Living on the edbe of the wild” where I write about some of our adventures. I’m also working on a novel and working on getting some short stories published. So I’m excited to find another writer who’s life experiences and interests are similar to mine. I’m loving what I’m finding on your site and will be checking back often to see what else you are posting. Also think I’ll create that page on “She Write.” Thanks for inspiring me to take the plunge.

    1. Deborah, what a delight to hear from you! I loved the Sea of Cortez, so perhaps we can share stories of favorite anchorages. Have you visited our sailing blog yet? (

      I’m so glad to meet you. I’d love to hear about your boat and will go check out your blog. Feel free to drop me an email and come visit on Facebook (I’ve a writing page as well as just a friend page there).

      Keep in touch!

Comments are closed.