Tag Archives: research

Miranda Writes 12 – More lovely San Francisco!

All this year I’m documenting the writing, editing and publishing of Take A Look At Me Now – my fifth novel – giving you a unique, behind-the-scenes look at my life as a writer. Here is the second of the vlogs I made when Bob and I visited San Francisco to research Take A Look At Me Now

In this episode you’ll see Union Square, Chinatown, the Financial District and the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park!


p.s. This week’s YouTube-nominated freeze-frame is entitled, ‘Hanging out in Union Square’…

Miranda Writes 7 – San Francisco sun and sights!

All this year I will be documenting the writing, editing and publishing of my fifth novel, giving you a unique, behind-the-scenes look at my life as a writer. This week, I bring you the first of my vlogs from my research trip to San Francisco and reveal the winning KOOKY COFFEE SHOP NAME suggestion for this week’s #getinvolved challenge!

Bob and I have just returned from San Francisco – what an amazing place! I absolutely fell in love with the city and am having withdrawal symptoms already…

While I was there, I filmed lots of footage to help me recreate the sights, sounds and experiences we had for when I’m writing Book 5. You can also read the blog diary I kept (see earlier posts on this site). I’ll be sharing several videos with you over the next couple of weeks – hope you enjoy them!

Also in this week’s vlog I’ll reveal the kooky coffee shop name suggestion that is going into the book – keep watching to find out who will get a mention in my acknowledgements.

I’d love to know what you think – also let me know your questions about writing, publishing or anything else that you’d like me to answer next week. Leave me a comment below or email me at mirandawurdy@gmail.com


p.s. This week’s YouTube-nominated freeze-frame is entitled, ‘Check out the shades, y’all…’

Heading home…

Well, I’m writing this at San Francisco International Airport as Bob and I wait for our flight home. I can hardly believe we’ve done our San Francisco trip!

We’ve packed so much into our six days and I’m coming home with a million ideas for Book 5. I can honestly say San Francisco has stolen my heart in ways I could never have foreseen. The neighbourhoods, the colour, the relentlessly positive atmosphere and the melting pot of cultures are a heady mix and it will take a long time for it all to properly sink in.

If you’ve enjoyed my daily Book 5 Adventure blogs, don’t worry – there’s more to come! When I get home, I’m going to post the photos WordPress wouldn’t let me upload in San Francisco and will be doing a post a day for the next week at least, so please keep watching… I’ll tell you a story about each post and hopefully bring you some of the sights we have enjoyed this week. And, of course, watch out for this week’s vlog (on Saturday), where I’ll show you some of the places we visited.

It’s been completely wonderful to visit the city Nell will escape to in Book 5. I’m going to pour everything we’ve experienced in SF into the novel, so I hope you’ll get a sense of just how fantastic the city is when my book is published in October. In the meantime, keep watching this blog!

More soon! xx

Fortune cookies, vintage trams and a sparkly end

I can hardly believe we’ve reached our last full day in San Francisco, but Bob and I are determined to squeeze every last drop of time out of our visit.

This morning we walked up from Union Square into Chinatown, the entrance to which is a large Oriental arch. When you pass through it, it is like stepping into another world. Chinese buskers playing traditional instruments sit on street corners (although one man was happily playing Clementine, Happy Birthday and Hotel California on his Huqin, which totally sums up the kookiness of this city!) Red lanterns for Chinese New Year are strung across the narrow streets and every sign is written in Chinese and English. As you cross the roads at each block, you glimpse the skyscrapers of the Financial District, which seem so at odds with the quaint Chinese-inspired frontages of the Chinatown streets. But then that’s San Francisco: distinct neighbourhoods nestled shoulder to shoulder with each other.

We visited the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie factory down tiny Ross Alley which is said to manufacture half of the world’s fortune cookies. Instead of a large building, we found a tiny, narrow unit with five ladies hand-moulding fortune cookies while a very enthusiastic man at the front showed us all the different varieties they made. I hope there’s another big factory somewhere so that those poor ladies don’t have to make all of them!

From Chinatown we walked down into the Financial District and into another world again. Now all the buildings were high rise concrete monoliths, there were coffee shops on every corner and everyone passing by was wearing expensive suits. Dominating the skyline pretty much everywhere you look in San Francisco is the distinctive Trans America Pyramid, which you can walk right by. At its base is a lovely little park planted with giant redwood trees, with sculptures and a fountain, where office workers eat their lunch or pass the time. In a city of so many contrasts, this made complete sense!

At the edge of the Financial District is the Embarcadero, with the Ferry Building looking out towards the Bay Bridge, Treasure Island and Oakland beyond. It’s really odd to see the skyscrapers right by the bay and the Ferry Building’s beautiful old architecture surrounded by palm trees. Inside the Ferry Building are lots of artisan food shops, selling everything from herbs to mushrooms, olive oil and ‘salted pig parts’! We wandered around for an hour and then took a takeaway coffee from Peet’s (a San Francisco coffe chain) to wander along the dock of the bay (yes, really!) to look at the lovely expanse of the Bay Bridge.

From there, we caught the F-line tram to travel the length of the waterfront piers. This line is served by vintage trams from all over America and beyond, that were built in the 1920s and 1930s (including one from Blackpool!). It’s not just a tourist attraction, either: people who work in the Financial District use them to get to and from work, which is a really fun way to commute and sums up the quirkiness and fun of the city.

Last thing, we hopped back on the F-Line at Market Street to go back to the Ferry Building at night to see the new light installation along the Bay Bridge. It looked spectacular, with shimmering white lights moving across its structure and reflecting in the waters of the Bay. With the lights of the city all around us, it was a breathtaking end to what has been an amazing, surprising and completely love-inspiring trip to the City of Lights. Thank you San Francisco, it’s been a blast! xx

Friendly people and dogs…

Everywhere we’ve been in San Francisco we’ve encountered two things: friendly people and dogs.

The friendly people aren’t just from California. They’re from all over the world. Some work and live here, others are visiting like we are. But everybody who has said hello and chatted to us has been upbeat and positive. I think San Francisco encourages the optimist out in you. Yesterday we met Brenda and Derek from Bournemouth on the boat trip, who were visiting San Francisco on the last leg of an 8-week round-the-world trip. We also met several friendly buskers around Fisherman’s Wharf and a bloke in Union Square who told us about Tony Bennett and took our photo for us. Today we met a very lovely Chinese man (and his dog) at the viewing point overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, who told us about his favourite places in his city. The lady at The Warming Hut (a fab cafe at the edge of Crissy Field near the bridge) asked us about Birmingham. And the busker entertaining the queue of people waiting for the cable car at Victoria Park remembered us from yesterday.

Dogs are everywhere: being walked (or carried) around Union Square, running with their jogging owners along Marina Street, playing on the beach by Crissy Field and riding the Muni trolley buses. They are all shapes and sizes and by and large are well-behaved and as friendly as their owners. San Franciscans LOVE their dogs. There’s even a ‘doggie couture’ boutique in Ghirardelli Square, selling everything your sartorially elegant pooch could possibly want!

One thing both friendly people and their dogs have in common is that you feel how happy they are to have you here. And that will be great for Book 5’s protagonist Nell Sullivan, because she visits San Francisco after being made redundant in her home city of London. After being used to the impersonality and avoidance of eye contact there, San Francisco will be the polar opposite – the difference enough to make her take a different view of herself and how she communicates with her world. I want Nell to experience a place where the best is expected for her, where she can allow herself to believe that anything is possible and where she dares to step outside of her comfort zone to discover what she’s capable of…

More tomorrow! xx

Hello San Francisco!

We’ve travelled for thirteen hours, but Bob and I have finally made it to San Francisco!

It’s quite surreal to be in the city I’ve been researching and the first thing that struck me was how much of it looks like a film set. I’m in no doubt that I’m in America (enormous cars, US flags everywhere) but it feels familiar because of the hours I’ve spent walking its streets on Google Earth and from travel books over the past three months.

I’m going to blog every day while we’re here, to share what we’ve been doing and hopefully my experience of visiting San Francisco for the first time. I’m also seeing the city through Nell’s eyes – my main character in Book 5, who decides to visit San Francisco for an adventure of a lifetime when she is unexpectedly made redundant. I want to show you the city from the perspective of someone falling in love with it for the first time.

We’ve only been here for a couple of hours, but I’ve already found a fantastic location for some scenes of the book – Union Square where we had coffee outside, listening to cable car bells, busking bands and even a throaty bagpiper in the shadow of Macy’s, Tiffany’s and Saks Fifth Avenue as tiny sparrows hopped onto the edge of our table. As introductions go, it was a pretty special way to meet San Francisco.

Now we’re heading out to find a diner before finally getting some sleep. More tomorrow, lovelies! 

Miranda & Bob xx