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June 01, 2015

Writing About: San Francisco + Question of the Month (June)


BLOG TOUR:

Doreen McGettigan - Author Interview


Lisa Buie-Collard - How Heroes and Heroines Meet




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If you're here for Question of the Month, feel free to scroll down to my answer and skip this rather long post.

ANNOUNCEMENT: I’ve kept it a secret, but I am now confirming San Francisco as the main setting for the sequel to Hurricane Crimes. And since I announced earthquakes as the disaster during A to Z, I will reveal the title....

SEISMIC CRIMES!

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San Francisco is a popular city in California. Several things make this city unique. If you’re writing a story set here, make sure to mention at least a few of these:


1. Golden Gate Bridge

California is known as the Golden State, so it’s no wonder why the bridge that spans from San Francisco to Marin County is called the Golden Gate Bridge, although it’s really more of an orange color. This bridge is 1.7 miles long and can withstand winds of more than 100 mph.
FACT: The Golden Gate Bridge is the most publicized suicide location, averaging one jumper about every ten days.

2. Fog

San Francisco is known for its fog that hangs over the city. If your story is set here, you should at least mention the fog San Franciscans live with everyday.

3. Cable Cars

A popular way to travel, other than walking, is the cable car system that covers nine miles. The sounds of the humming cable and the clanks of the bell accompany cable cars wherever they go. If your MC lives here, have him/her hop onto a cable car with ease. It’s $6 per ride though!

4. Chinatown

Packed with open-air markets, tea, noodle and Dim Dum shops, Chinatown is a huge tourist attraction. You’ll see racks of Chinese silks, shell fish in huge tanks, and jade trinket being sold. You could hear metal crickets and smell incense mixed with cigarette smoke and the odor of fresh fish. Portsmouth Square, a popular spot in Chinatown, is where you can find men huddled over Chinese chess tables.
TIP: Use all of the five senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell) capture the essence of Chinatown.

5. Union Square

At the heart of San Francisco is Union Square, where Macy’s Saks, Neiman-Marcus, and Tiffany & Co are located. Many people go to Union Square to window shop and people watch.

6. Alcatraz

The prison notorious for housing murderers like George "Machine-Gun" Kelly and Robert Stroud aka "The Birdman of Alcatraz.” Alcatraz would be a spooky setting for a horror story. They do tours there and there are many reports of Alcatraz being haunted.

7. North Beach

Your characters can enjoy a night of cocktails and live music in this small Italian neighborhood. It’s also a great place for coffee.
TIP: Some more popular places in San Francisco is the Financial District where you can find the Transamerica Pyramid, Golden Gate Park where you can find a Japanese Tea Garden, Twin Peaks, Pier 39, and Fisherman’s Wharf.
8. People

San Franciscans have a live-let-live attitude. Or so I’ve read. You can find all sorts of people here” business men and women in suits, surfers, bohemians, transvestites in evening wear, tourists, musicians, homeless people, and even Pink man, a man who reportedly rides around on a unicycle in a hot pink unitard and cape. Most people in California (not all, mind you) eat organic food, do yoga, support the Democratic party, and are environmentally-friendly.

9. Weather

San Francisco’s average high is 63 degrees Fahrenheit with an average love of 51 degrees. So dress your characters accordingly. Your heroine could wear leggings or pantyhose with her skirts/dresses. She may also keep a light cardigan/jacket with her. The warmest days are in September and October. Your heroine can take advantage of that warmth with tank tops and strapless ensembles. 

10. Earthquakes

The San Andreas Fault cuts right through most of California. Small, undetected quakes rumbled under the surface every few days in the Bay Area. Every year only a few quakes are strong enough to be felt. Most aren’t severe but there’s a chance that a quake of 6.7 or greater on the Richter scale could hit the Bay Area before 2052.


QUESTIONS: Do you live in California? Have you ever been to San Francisco? What do you like most/least about it?

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Michael G D'Agostino is starting up a monthly blog hop called "Question of the Month." On the first Monday of every month we have to answer a question that Michael picks. It sounded like fun, so I hopped on. :) 


The Question: If your house caught on fire, what's the one thing you'd grab before running out?

My Answer: (Sorry it's long...)

I recently asked this same question for my A to Z post about Wildfires. This is a tough question to answer because I’d want to save my four cats. I’m also a writer and would want to grab my writing stuff. Oh and I'm terrified of fires....

When I was a kid, a wildfire almost took my childhood home and an electrical fire started in that same house a few weeks later. In Florida, fire season is bad, especially in my city. I prepare for fires year-round by keeping all of my notebooks and flash drives in a backpack, so I’d grab that bag and open the sliding glass do to let my cats out on the porch. Usually, they are out on the porch in the blink of an eye. I just hope they’ll seek shelter on the porch instead of hiding inside, because I know they’d be frightened.

Anyway, I am panicking just thinking about this. Thanks, Michael! (Kidding!)




86 comments:

Blogoratti said...

Looks like a great city indeed, thanks for the tips. Have a great week!

TBM said...

San Fran is one of my favorite cities. And the Alcatraz tour is pretty awesome. When I went years ago I did the audio tour. At times you could hear the doors slamming shut and it sent chills down my spine. I wouldn't want to be an inmate there. Not one bit.

Stephanie Faris said...

Sounds like a great book. I don't know if I could handle the fear of earthquakes if I lived there, though. Yikes! My husband went to San Francisco for a business trip and I didn't get to go. It was too expensive. I do want to go someday, though.

Sarah Foster said...

I went to San Francisco a couple years ago for my uncle's wedding (which was actually in Golden Gate Park). We went on one of those bus tours to see all of the major landmarks. We were lucky to be inside the bus and not on top of it going over the Golden Gate Bridge, though, because the fog was crazy! Everyone on top had to wear ponchos.

sage said...

I spent several summers in the Bay area (I stayed in Berkeley or up on Marin County). From Berkeley it was easy to take BART (Bay Area Rapid Transist) into the city. From Larkspur (in Marin) the city was a pleasant ferry ride across the Golden Gate and by Alcatraz. BTW, the Golden Gate is the name for the opening into the Pacific and it was known as that before the bridge was built--it was sometimes hard to find in the fog and there is a wonderful place to hike in the Marin Headwaters called "Tennessee Valley," that is named for a steamship "The Tennessee" that crashed into the shore as it tried to find the Golden Gate in the fog. I have wonderful photos of the top of the bridge and a few buildings in SF from the Marin Hills when hiking in the fog. Also nice shots of the lighthouse at the mouth of the Golden Gate and looking back at the golden gate at sunset--along with a set of sunset shots of the Golden Gate from the marina in Berkeley (where I was eating "take-out" seafood for dinner... Yes, I'd say I have some good memories of the city!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You and Michael are both smart about keeping your stuff in a backpack.
San Francisco is such a unique city. Writers really need to do their research to cover those things you mentioned.

Unknown said...

A suicide every ten days?? That's really sad :( Your QotM answer is pretty similar to mine ;)

Chrys Fey said...

You're welcome, blogoratti!

Chrys Fey said...

That does sound chilling. I like spooky things and would definitely do a tour of there.

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Stephanie! I recently sent it to my publisher. I'm waiting to hear back on its' fate.

Chrys Fey said...

That is crazy! I think I would've been one of the insane ones to volunteer to be on top, though. :P

Chrys Fey said...

Yup, I wrote about BART in my book. :) I didn't know that about Golden Gate. That's cool. Those shots must be awesome!

Chrys Fey said...

Great minds? :P

Exactly. I did a lot of research and then had someone who lives there read it.

Chrys Fey said...

It is sad. :(

Really? Then we're smart! ;)

Unknown said...

oh wow I never knew this about Golden Gate bridge! I always see it and think Full House. Never been to Cali though (I want to one day) just the airport on a layover. :) and fires are crazy scary. I can't even imagine how traumatizing that must have been. First thing I'd grab would be my kitten of course, and then my writing stuff (computer and flash drive)

Chrys Fey said...

Sounds like we'd save the same things. Writers and their cats. ;)

Pat Hatt said...

Everything I knew about San Francisco came from Monk haha glad I know more now.

Awesome to be aware and have the backpack ready.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Love the title Seismic Crimes. And San Francisco is a beautiful place.

Slamdunk said...

Love the title... I have not been to SF, but had an aunt that lived there for many years. As a child, she used to write me regularly with send post cards with pics of the area. It always fascinated me.

Anonymous said...

I've been to San Diego when my brother was stationed there for his Navy training. He felt a few earthquakes that happened around San Francisco.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I've been to the San Fran airport but we didn't get to explore the city. I would love to see Chinatown.

Arlee Bird said...

I was in SF as a child but don't remember that visit. As an adult I've briefly visited twice though not really enough to do too much. We did drive across the Golden Gate Bridge one time though.

You covered the main points about SF I think.

I'm with you on the question--I'd prefer not to have to ever face that situation. No matter what you saved there'd be a ton of stuff that you couldn't that would be bad to lose.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out

Anonymous said...

I'd really love to just visit SF to get my own feel of it, but great advice! If I ever write anything set there. So far, I've only set things in my own created world, my try at Montana (which I'm sure isn't very accurate) or Texas because I live here, ha!
I was assuming that my husband would grab my kiddo and the dogs and I said my flash drive, because obviously that's most important!

Chrys Fey said...

I never watched Monk...

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Rachna! :D

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you! That's was really nice of her. I would've loved that. Nothing is more fun than to get letters and postcards as a kid. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Yikes! Those shock waves can sure travel.

Chrys Fey said...

So would I!

Chrys Fey said...

I think I might be scared to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Awesome! I was hoping that I did. :)

Exactly. It's terrifying to even think about.

Chrys Fey said...

I haven't been there, so I would love to go too. It would've been nice to go there for my story instead of relying on research, but I think I did good.

Obviously. ;)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I've never been to San Francisco but you've made it sound like an interesting setting. I would love to tour Alcatraz.

betty said...

I wonder if they close the Golden Gate Bridge when there is a jumper on it. They'll do that for the Coronado Bridge down in San Diego. Makes a big traffic mess. That is kind of sad though with the statistics of jumpers in San Francisco.

I do agree about writing about the different aspects of San Francisco if one is going to base their book on it. I'm reading a book right now about someone in San Francisco and Marin County. I'll have to see how many references they do in the book. The book is called "Buying Time" by Paula Kay. Not sure if I like it or not yet; it was a free ebook.

I did live in California, in fact for the majority of my life California was "home". Been to San Francisco a few times too. So many wonderful things to see there, can't pick a favorite. Hubby and son on a separate trip without me did Alcatraz and they enjoyed the tour.

It would be hard to know what to take in a fire. Probably my computer(s) and my Bible. Of course a pet if I had one at the time.

betty

Jax said...

Having a plan for an emergency/fire is probably the best option! I should do this as well, especially with my baby girl in the house.

Mary Aalgaard said...

It is terrifying to think of fire. That's why we're all supposed to have a plan. Great idea with the backpack and keeping the door open for the pets.
Play off the Page

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Chrys - yes .. we really need to know our location don't we - otherwise it could so easily sound false ... the fog I know about ... and I'm sure I'd do the Alcatraz trip ... it's the Seismic blast I'd hate the thought of ... the fault line really opening up. Our earth really isn't stable ... what would I take ... probably myself - because I wouldn't be prepared ... I don't have animals .. but fire is frightening .. cheers Hilary

Unknown said...

Oh, I'm sure that setting is fun to write! And ew fires...always scares the crap out of me.

Mary Kirkland said...

I've been to San Francisco once when I was a kid. I'm sure it would make a wonderful setting. My dad loves pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge so my brother and I have bought him calendars, statues and a clock with the Bridge on it.

Birgit said...

I mentioned in other posts that i would take the laptop and all the pictures and ancestry stuff. Yes more than one thing and i would burn but one can't replace pictures. I have never been to California so that means I have never been to San Francisco. I always wanted to visit this city and will one day. I know they had a King:) There was an odd man who walked around the streets in the 1800's and he claimed he was a king. The city actually appointed him as King. I wish i could remember his name but I see his picture in my head. Love that story

VR Barkowski said...

Great choice of cities! My family’s been in Northern California for 7 generations. My dad worked in San Francisco, I attended Berkeley, and lived in the East Bay for years. My first two novels are set in San Francisco. I adore the city as long as I don’t have to drive the hills. It’s home.

True story: I grew up in the hottest part of California’s Central Valley. Everything that should be green turned brown (actually gold) much of the year. As a kid, I thought that was why California was called the golden state.

VR Barkowski


D.G. Hudson said...

I absolutely love San Francisco, it's the third fave on my list after Paris and Vancouver. (we have the San Andreas in our area too) Makes me want to see that film, by the same name...Your book sounds like something I might like, too.
I've pix of the Golden Gate as we went over it and of the steps that went down to the water near the Cliff House Restaurant; it was once destroyed by fire as a result of an earthquake. Did you know about that?

S. L. Hennessy said...

San Francisco is such a wonderful city. The perfect setting!

Chrys Fey said...

Even before I wrote about it, I've always wanted to go there. I think it's because Charmed (the show) was set there. haha

Chrys Fey said...

I'm not sure, Betty! I'm thinking that they wouldn't, but who knows? Maybe someone who lives there will read your question and reply back with the correct answer.

I get what you mean...some free eBooks can be iffy, which others can be gems.

Chrys Fey said...

That would be a good idea. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Mary. My fear has forced me to have a plan. Most other people don't think about it.

Chrys Fey said...

A fault line opening up would sure be terrifying. I get shivers just thinking about it.

Chrys Fey said...

Me too. :\

Chrys Fey said...

I adore picks of the Golden Gate Bridge. Especially night ones. :)

Chrys Fey said...

I've always wanted to visit San Fran too. I did not know about their King. That's funny.

Chrys Fey said...

Those hills are pretty steep. Driving them would be better than walking them, though. I'd collapse half-way up. :P

Hehe. That's a cute true story. :)

Chrys Fey said...

The movie San Andreas does look good. And it makes me feel like they're stealing my stuff! HAHA! ;)

I did not know. Nice little tidbit. Thanks!

Chrys Fey said...

I think so , too. :)

Toi Thomas said...

I've never been on the west coast, but I do eventually make it out there, I'm totaly going to San Francisco. It sounds like great place to centralize your story.
I like this backpack idea of yours, it's the second time I've seen it. Sorry about your history with fires, but at least you've learned to be prepared because of it.
Great posts!

Jeffrey Scott said...

I didn't think that was long at all. Great information on San Francisco. I've always wanted to visit Alcatraz, especially after seeing the Escape from Alcatraz film.

Great idea for a blog hop. I may have to check it out.

Lisa Thomson said...

Great summary and description of San Fran! I've been several times and I love it! It's actually a bit similar to where I live now (Vancouver, B.C.) I love the cable car and the Wharf (I know--- the touristy places). The houses too, are so pretty. It would be a great idea to watch some movies that take place there if you're writing a setting in San Fran but can't get there for a visit. The film 'Milk' with Sean Penn was really great for getting a feel for the city in the 70's.

Anonymous said...

Research is always good. I try with mine, but I really wish sometimes I could just relocate everyone and drop down into random places to get a true feel of how it is to live there.

Chrys Fey said...

I sometimes wish the same thing. My current WIP is set in Oahu, Hawaii. I've never been there either.

Chrys Fey said...

I've only been on the East coast. I dream of doing an epic road trip to ass the states/cities I want to see and experience. :)

Chrys Fey said...

I'm glad you didn't think so, but I know many people prefer short blog posts. And mine tend to get lengthy.

This was the first question for the hop and it was fun. You should join it. I'd love to hear your take.

Chrys Fey said...

If I ever sent to San Fran, I'd hit all the touristy spots. :D

Yes, the houses are amazing!

I've never seen 'Milk.' I should look for it.

Lisa Thomson said...

P.S. so excited for the sequel :) Great setting.

klahanie said...

Hi Chrys,

I adore San Francisco. I drove there from where I lived, coincidentally, Vancouver, B.C,. when I was nineteen years old. I remember somehow ending up behind a cable car and passing the building that's featured in the Streets of San Francisco.

You might know that Vancouver has been used to portray San Francisco in TV shows such as Sliders.

Where's my backpack? :)

Gary

Liz A. said...

Yep, I've been to San Francisco a couple times. Not lately, though. Good tip about the weather--that place gets chilly.

The fire question that's all over the blogosphere today... reminds me of the fire we had when I was a kid. Too young to remember it, but my mom got my teddy bear out (and promised that Santa Claus would find me--it was Christmas Eve).

Janie Junebug said...

I live in Florida (Jacksonville). We never seem to have any warnings about fires. I love San Francisco. Another point about characters there is that many San Franciscans wear what The Hurricane calls The Uniform. It is jeans and a t-shirt with a North Face jacket. If I had enough money, I would live in San Francisco. It's such an artsy place. If you have reasons to worry about fire, then you are wise to have your bag ready. I do not worry about much. Maybe I should worry more.

Love,
Janie

T.F. Walsh said...

I've been it San Fran a few times and I love that city. We always make sure we visit it when go to the US since there's so much to do:)

Nick Wilford said...

It sounds like a fantastic setting, best of luck. I read a book set there and the fog was definitely a key character!

Misha Gerrick said...

I've never been to San Francisco, but it's on my bucket list. :-)

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you! :D

Chrys Fey said...

I actually did not know that. I have to go to Vancouver! :)

Chrys Fey said...

Aw! It's so sweet that your mom got your teddy bear and promised you that Santa would find you.

Chrys Fey said...

I live further South than you and you're right...we don't have warnings. They can pop up anywhere at anytime.

Chrys Fey said...

Sounds great. T.F.

Chrys Fey said...

The fog is at least mentioned once in my story...maybe a couple of times. It's important to include key characteristics of a setting.

Chrys Fey said...

It's on mine too. :)

Carrie-Anne said...

I've only been as far west as Colorado, though I'd love to visit California someday. San Francisco and Berkeley have featured in some of the chapters in my second and third Russian historicals, though my characters who arrive in America by way of San Francisco aren't greeted by the Golden Gate Bridge prior to 1937. It was really jarring to think about a time when that iconic bridge wasn't there, dominating the cityscape. My two characters who arrive in 1933 go to places including the Emporium department store, the Fleishhacker Pool, a movie palace where they discover movies can now talk, and the Playland amusement park.

J.H. Moncrieff said...

I've been to San Francisco once, but it was a disappointing visit, as I didn't get to see much. I'd love to go back. It seems like a fascinating city.

The one thing I didn't like was the cold. I went in July, and while the rest of California was warm, San Fran was freezing! I had to wear a jacket the entire time, and it was rainy and miserable most days. If I go again, it will definitely be in the fall.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

I'd save my cats.
I'd like to visit San Francisco some day. Have family in Southern California, but have never ventured north.

diedre Knight said...

I visited quite a lot while my cousins lived there (years ago) and San Fran is definitely a fascinating place! Unaccustomed to fog; I found it strange and eerie - especially in the mornings. You've selected an excellent title! It brings to (my) mind the quake of 1906 :-)
How impressive that you are so emergency ready - it sure can't hurt! :-)

Chrys Fey said...

Yes, writing about San Francisco during a historical date, things will be very different. That's where even more research would be essential.

Chrys Fey said...

Did get to see much? I'd be disappointed too!

San Fran, since it's further north, does experience colder weather. Strange when you think about one part of the state being freezing and another hot.

Kelly Steel said...

I loved when I visited San Francisco, went in the tram, did all touristy things.

Chrys Fey said...

How could we not save our kitties?

Chrys Fey said...

I'm glad you like the title. I went through a couple of other possible titles before settling on Seismic Crimes.

Chrys Fey said...

I would definitely do all the touristy things. :D

Shannon Lawrence said...

I've been to San Fran (was born in CA), but I really want to tour Alcatraz. I wonder if my kids will always be extra frightened of fire. They were traumatized by our flight from the Waldo Canyon fire. I put on Dante's Peak to watch with them once, and we ended up having to take them out for ice cream at 9:30 PM, because I hadn't connected our experience with the fire with a volcano (but what we saw was surprisingly similar in terms of the heavy ash falling, smoke, flames). I had to shut the movie off and put a different one on. My cousin who lives in a rural area of CA has a list on her fridge for what to grab if a wildfire breaks out, because it's so common in their area.

Chrys Fey said...

Fire is so scary. Oddly enough, I don't have a problem with watching Dante's Peak. But just the hint of smoke in the air will set my heart pounging.