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Destination Inspiration: Caffe Fiore

Caffe Fiore Interior

Sometimes neighborhood coffee shops are our favorite places for writing, as they tend to have a familial feel and a welcoming atmosphere whether we know anyone there or not. Such is the case with Caffe Fiore, a coffee shop with several Seattle locations.

Caffe Fiore Food and Drink

Food and Beverages

On our recent visit to the Sunset Hill location, we shared a zucchini loaf and onion pastry. Sarah opted for a chai while Daytona had a latte …

Caffe Fiore Coffee and Pastries

Caffe Fiore Sign

Caffe Fiore Outside Seating

Caffe Fiore Counter

Location and Atmosphere

Located on the corner of 32nd and 85th, Caffe Fiore is a neighborhood gem but is also located along a busline and on the route down the winding road to Golden Gardens, making it both easy to get there by public transportation and a natural destination if you’re looking to warm up after a trip to the beach on a brisk day.

Writeability and Purchased Presence

It seems just as common to see people sipping their coffee as they read or write at their laptop as it does to see families stopping in here as a stop on a walk. Our take is that it’s a great spot for some relaxed writing. Just be sure to be conversational and friendly with the staff and other customers, and order a second drink if you’re going to stick around a while.

Price: $$


Located at an intersection, there is ample parking on the side streets flanking the cafe.

Caffe Fiore Counter and Seating      

Writer’s Tip

Take some time at this cafe to revisit old pieces you’ve put on the back burner. See if spending time with them brings about anything new. A fresh place can bring a fresh perspective.

Caffe Fiore Exterior

Find it:

Caffe Fiore, Sunset Hill
3125 NW 85th St
Seattle, WA 98117


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Reaching Out for Inspiration

One of my favorite means of finding inspiration is talking to other writers. Nothing shakes off the cobwebs gathered during a stint of writer’s block quite like a good conversation with an author who has been in your shoes.

Grab a couple friends and visit one of our Destination Inspiration locations for great conversation and brain storming.

Recently I’ve had the pleasure of touching base with some fantastic writers, some of whom are honoring us with tips and advice in the coming months via our “From the Pros” series. It’s amazing to me how just talking out plot points or bouncing ideas off of friends can rekindle a lost spark or provide fuel to scribble out a scene that was needed to tie everything together.

While writing is generally an isolating profession, it’s important to remember that a big part of our inspiration comes from living life and engaging those around us. Encouragement is fodder for the soul and I truly feel that it’s essential for a healthy writing life. Reach out to authors you admire. They may seem far away, but an email goes a long way and you may be surprised at the response you get.

Get connected with other writers, published or otherwise aspiring. Critique groups are great for this purpose. Communication with kindred spirits can wonderfully clear your vision, steady the nerves, define your purpose, sweeten and strengthen the spirit.

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A Productive April


A beautiful spring here in Seattle has beckoned us to explore sunny nooks and relish pre-summer trips. We’ve been busy learning from other writers and stretching our own craft as we’ve pressed forward, reaching and expanding in our own individual niches.

To begin with, we wrapped up a Destination Inspiration: Portland series with a taste of Powell’s City of Books and also visited a great place to catch up as we’d been parted for a while through travel and spring plans.

Powell's Banner

In Writer’s Kitchen, we celebrate food bloggers who had recently released books. Cheers to our fellow authors!


Finally, and possibly most excitingly, we started our “From the Pros” series in which we are fortunate to have guest posts featuring advice and encouragement from successful and inspirational authors. This month we heard from Lesley Ann McDaniel about finding your character’s Achilles Heel.


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Destination Inspiration: Phinney Market Pub & Eatery

Phinney Market Exterior

We’ll be honest. Sometimes as writers we just need to get together and hang out. To catch up, reconnect, and share a good meal. The two of us did that one recent day at Phinney Market Pub & Eatery. Due to travel, it had been over a month since we had seen each other, and a relaxed dinner at this restaurant in Seattle’s Phinney Ridge neighborhood was just what we needed.

We were excited to discover, also, that with the right timing, Phinney Market can also be a great place for writing. Read on for details.

Phinney Market Burger

Food and Beverages

First things first, let’s talk about the food. Phinney Market prides itself on serving local, sustainable, and seasonal food, and their commitment to quality is clear all the way down to the details. The cheeseburger is made with Painted Hills grass-fed beef and Beecher’s white cheddar on a brioche bun from Macrina. Order it with cider-battered butternut squash on the side if only to taste the sweet curry aioli that has the perfect balance of flavors. On the particular night we visited, an excellent bottle of Côtes du Rhône was available for $20 so we went for it. To top it all off, we ordered crème brûlée, which was well-executed but nothing unique.

Phinney Market Burger with Squash Fries

Phinney Market Creme Brulee

Location and Atmosphere

Located just North up the street from the Woodland Park Zoo, this is a great place to stop before or after a day at the zoo. The atmosphere is classy and open with sweeping windows, glass chandeliers and vintage fixtures and wallpaper. Parents will also really appreciate the children’s corner complete with train table, books and cars. You can relax with a latte while the kids play.

Phinney Market Interior

Phinney Market Pub Interior

Writeability and Purchased Presence

So, here’s where things get fun. If you time it just right, you can probably manage to get in a half an hour or so of writing before the place fills up. Arrive right as the restaurant opens and sit down with your notebook or laptop and do some strategic writing as you wait for your order. As soon as people start to file in, do be mindful, though, of the staff and patrons and don’t linger any longer than you need to. And don’t forget to tip extra well–you’re representing an entire class of writers, after all!

Phinney Market Table

Phinney Market Sign

Phinney Market Train Table

Price: $$

Small plates start at $5 and main dishes run from $12 to $16.


Located on the main road in a residential neighborhood, you’re bound to find a parking spot within a block or two.

Writer’s Tip

Given its location near the zoo and park, this is a great place to people watch. Try the classic exercise of picking one person who stands out to you and imagining a character profile. If you have time, use that profile to start a short story.

Find it:

Phinney Market Pub & Eatery
5918 Phinney Ave. N
Seattle, WA  98103

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Daily Writer’s Fix: April 22-26



What are the things on your to-do list that you keep telling yourself you’ll get around to sooner or later? I’m not talking about writing deep-cleaning the house or getting the piano tuned. I’m talking about things related to your writing career that don’t exactly have to do with the act of writing itself. They’re the things that will help take your career to the next level. This week you’re going to work on them. Take a moment to list a handful of those tasks–they could be starting an e-newsletter or upgrading your blog’s theme. Or perhaps you’ve been meaning to contact your dream magazine and ask for writer’s guidelines. No more procrastination! Each day this week, tackle one of those tasks. By the end of the week, you should be well on your way to the next phase of your career!

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How to Give Your Character an Achilles’ Heel

*Guest post by Lesley Ann McDaniel*

Every hero needs an Achilles’ heel. But what exactly does that mean?

In one of my current manuscripts, the hero gets an opportunity to rescue the heroine in the climax of the book. What kind of hero would he be if he didn’t, right? Since the story takes place on an island, it makes sense that the water surrounding it would figure into the final mêlée. I knew from the start that the hero would jump in to save the heroine, but when the time came to write that moment, he wouldn’t do it. He wouldn’t jump.

It was then that I discovered his Achilles’ heel. It’s his overwhelming fear of water.


So, what exactly is an Achilles’ heel, and where does the term come from?

According to Greek mythology, Achilles was an exceptionally brave warrior. When he was born, his mother tried to make him immortal by dipping him in the River Styx, which presumably held magic powers. Unfortunately, the heel she held him by remained dry and, therefore, vulnerable. All an enemy had to do was aim for the one part of Achilles that was still mortal.

So any weakness, whether in a person, a thing, or an idea, can be referred to as an Achilles’ heel.

As writers, how do we apply this to our characters? Think of it as their greatest fear or weakness, like Indiana Jones and his fear of snakes.

Why does this matter? Because it’s an effective way to raise the stakes for our characters, and a reliable tool to prevent a “sagging middle” in our stories. Knowing a character’s Achilles heel lets us create more difficult decisions for him, if we do it right.

In the example of my poor water-fearing hero, his choice has been elevated from ‘save-the-heroine or not-save-the-heroine’ (a pretty ho-hum choice) to ‘face-my-darkest-fear or continue-to-be-a-coward’. The moment is more powerful because he has to face his greatest weakness.

Here’s how to effectively utilize a character’s Achilles’ heel:

  1. Set it up early in your story.

As with every story element, this shouldn’t announce itself as a set-up. Reinforce this component of your character, but don’t project the pay-off. Let the reader’s curiosity build.

2. Your character must acknowledge his weakness early on.

He can either deny it, decide he’s fine with things just the way they are, or maybe even express a desire to overcome it someday.

3. If your character has a nemesis, that nemesis has to take advantage of your character’s Achilles’ heel.

4. Let your character face his weakness in an interesting, unexpected way.

Ideally, this would come at the 2/3 inciting incident, or the climax. Maybe both, as long as the second event is even more creative and unexpected.

5.   Your character doesn’t necessarily have to overcome his greatest fear, but he does have to face it.

Be creative. What’s the most interesting Achilles’ heel you can come up with?


LESLEY ANN MCDANIEL writes romance, romantic suspense, and young adult fiction. Her new book, “Lights, Cowboy, Action” will be released through Heartsong Presents in June, 2013. Contact her at or visit her website at

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Daily Writer’s Fix: April 8-12


Hi friends, I hope this morning equals sunny skies and a warm pot of coffee for you. Or, if it doesn’t, that at least you can savor the coziness of cuddling up with a sweatshirt at your desk with a hot cup of tea while listening to the rain pound on your windows. This week’s edition of Daily Writer’s Fix is all about fostering your goals–through the setting you create for yourself in your writing nook. Each day this week, as you sit down to write, take a look around you and analyze it. What could you do to make it more inspiring? Each day, take one step toward making your writing nook a place where you want to linger, a place where the words flow and creativity abounds. Happy writing, Daytona.

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Cowboy in the City

Here at Nooks & Cranberries our motto is that “there are plenty of reasons not to write, but we’re here to ensure that a lack of creativity isn’t one of them.”

Lately I’ve had plenty of creativity, but what has kept me from finishing the many projects that I’ve started is fear. It’s a silly fear really, but what it comes down to is that I’m afraid of killing my characters. You’d think the fact that I write thrillers and murder mysteries would have hardened me, but really I’m quite sentimental. In this case however I’m not talking about actually murdering my primary characters (although let’s face it, someone always has to die), I’m speaking to the fact that when we write a story, even a short one, we are committing those involved to a path. A path of identity. In a way, we are locking them in to certain facts. If dear ol’ country boy Mitch has a drawl and a swagger that makes the girls melt, you have just locked that feature into the minds of your readers and now that’s a permanent part of him. Having that as part of his identity is going to forever guide his choices and therefore will determine the road he takes. Now the possibilities of him being anybody else are, in a sense, dead.

Douglas Duncan on the street in NYC
Cowboy Douglas Duncan on the street in NYC. Image from

This character killing reality has been a roadblock. Country boy Mitch will never have the street smarts of someone who was born and raised in the city. But then I realized something, just because I’ve used Mitch in one story doesn’t mean he is dead to every other story I write. Part of being a writer means having the liberty of reviving anyone I want and using them in another chapter. And having locked Mitch into his country persona doesn’t mean he can’t change. It’s all about justification. And I don’t mean the ‘excuse-disguised-as-reason’ type justification. I’m talking about authenticity. Perhaps being attached to certain characters and wanting to use them can open up options, not just close them down. Perhaps a certain journey Mitch takes transforms him into a city-wise country boy that adds a depth to his character that wasn’t there before. What we have to be careful of in the long run is making sure our intentions are genuine. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that while our uncanny ability to justify anything and everything can be very useful in the world of writing, it can also bring about some awfully flat and unbelievable drivel.

Here’s my challenge to you: wielding this power of justification, take a second look at some of your characters. Pick one that seems a bit flat and see what changes you can justify in their character that could give them more depth and perhaps some new plot twists!

Cheers and happy writing!

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Destination Inspiration: Powell’s City of Books & World Cup Roasters

World Cup Roasters at Powell's

The one thing better than a cafe bustling with writers and book-lovers is such a cafe located inside the biggest bookstore you can imagine. Think that place only exists in your dreams? Think again–it’s World Cup Roasters located inside Powell’s City of Books in Portland.

Food and Beverages

First things first when you arrive at the cafe ready to write: Fuel up! Order a coffee or tea–any beverage that suits the mood. While you’re at it, don’t forget the food. You might as well come hungry and give one of the individual savory pies from Pacific Pie Company a try. Selections vary from bacon, egg, and cheese to chard, Gruyère, and egg.

Pacific Pie Company Pastry

Location and Atmosphere

Not far from our first-ever Destination Inspiration profile–Pearl Bakery–Powell’s City of Books is located in the Pearl District, amidst all sorts of stores from Anthropologie to kitchen supplies. With Powell’s labrynth of bookshelves, one could happily and willingly get lost for hours. Few things stimulate the brain of a book lover/writer quite like the smell of books, the feeling of the pages shuffling beneath your finger tips and the endless ideas and possibilities contained inside. Walking into Powell’s will surely have your head spinning and your mind bursting with creativity.

Powell's Bookshelves

Writeability and Purchased Presence

One look as you step inside and you’ll see that Powell’s is a sort of black hole for book lovers, and the cafe is no exception. With shelves of romance novels and paranormal young adult fiction on one side, large windows on two sides, and an entrance to the main part of the bookstore on the other, the cafe is obviously a haven for the many people who sit drinking coffee, reading books, and writing on their laptops in the spacious eating area. The question is whether you can grab the open spot before someone else claims it for the next few hours. Obviously, if you’re planning on sticking around at your seat for hours, please live up to the Nooks & Cranberries Code of Conduct and be courteous and place more orders; if it’s particularly busy, consider giving up your seat and taking a break to browse books for a while before returning.

Powell's Pillar

Price: $$

It’s a coffee shop, and prices reflect that. From coffees for a few dollars to individual savory pies from Pacific Pie Company for about $5, you can fuel up on caffeine and food and still have a budget for the books you’ll inevitably want to take home.


You’re in luck: Powell’s has a parking garage!

Powell's Banner

Writer’s Tip

Try a new challenge in this unique bookstore. Explore the section of a genre you are unfamiliar with. For example, if you gravitate toward fiction, check out the travel section. Pick out a book and read a few paragraphs or whatever it takes to get an idea of the voice. With that new tone in mind, try rewriting something of your own, gearing it toward that new genre. You might be surprised at the new spin this gives your work!

Find it:

World Cup Roasters Cafe / Powell’s City of Books

1005 W Burnside
Portland, OR 97209