My friend Nan Reinhardt and I take a trip north every year or two, renting a VRBO and staying about four days in one of the beach towns on Michigan’s west coast. We eat fudge, replenish our sweatshirt collection, find some good wine (and, it must be said, some not so good…), and write a lot.

So when I found the lake that became Harper Loch and the small town that became Placer for Pieces of Blue, I moved them from north central Indiana to north central Michigan. While the actual places are fine where they are and have been there for a really long time, I wanted Maggie North’s hometown to be Muskegon. I wanted the winters to be brisker than we’ve grown used to. What I really wanted was to place them in the Upper Peninsula, but never found the time to get up there again to…absorb. Because absorption is what I need when I’m putting a story in place.

Although I am a writer and I should be able to do these things easily, I have a lot of trouble explaining the importance of setting.

It’s not the same for everyone—I’ve read books that could have been set virtually anywhere without their quality being diminished. I’ve read books where the writer has “called it in.” If there’s a stereotype that can be applied to a place, a time, or a demographic, they’ll use it. (I’m a Midwesterner who lives rurally and goes to church every Sunday; ask me how I know this.)

It’s because of that last part, I think, that setting becomes a character. Like the people and animals in the story, it has flaws—the road to Harper Loch is a curvy lane-and-a-half; spots of brilliance—wait till you read about the Burl; and the feeling of a safe place—there’s a liars’ table at the Mercantile.

Pieces of Blue will be released on July 1, but it’s up for pre-order now! I hope you’ll give it a look and that you enjoy it.


For all of her adult life, loner Maggie North has worked for bestselling author Trilby Winterroad, first as his typist, then as his assistant, and finally as his ghost writer. Throughout her first marriage, widowhood, remarriage, and divorce from an abusive husband, Trilby was the constant in her life.

When he dies, she inherits not only his dachshund, Chloe, but a house she didn’t know existed on a lake she’d never heard of. On her first visit, she falls in love with both the house and the lake. Within a few weeks, she’s met most of the 85 inhabitants of Harper Loch and surprisingly, become a part of the tiny community. Her life expands as does a new kind of relationship with her friend Sam Eldridge. She finally feels not only at home, but safe.

Until her ex-husband is released from prison. The fragile threads of her new life begin to fray, and that feeling of safety is about to shatter into a thousand pieces.


Buy links:

Books2Read ~ Amazon


The drive took me farther into the country than I’d ever been—at least that I could remember. While the temperature didn’t drop, the wind did increase, blowing snow from the roadsides across in front of me in gusty swirls of white. I was surprised that Gladys, the elegant voice of my GPS, didn’t sound either confused or disdainful even when it took me three tries to see the little green sign that indicated Harper Loch Road.

Canopied by naked February trees and lined with animal-tracked snowbanks, the road was one and a half lanes wide. I hoped it would be wider when there was no snow, but I wouldn’t bet on it. It was hilly, with serpentine curves that reminded me of a Chutes and Ladders game board minus the ladders. Gladys didn’t enlighten me as to how far it was to the lake itself, and two miles in, I was starting to wonder if it was all a bad joke.

Trilby had been the master of bad jokes.

A barnwood sign at the side of the road encouraged me to Keep Right! I inched over, flinching when the snowbank brushed the side of my car, my pride and joy. Chloe looked my way, wide eyed.

Apparently, it was a popular meeting spot on the road, because I met a pickup immediately, going at least twice as fast as I was. The driver waved cheerfully and missed me by what I was certain was the hair’s breadth Trilby used to insist was purple prose if used in a book. I would have waved back, but my hands, white knuckled, didn’t want to let go of the steering wheel.

“Trilby,” I said, “what in the hell were you thinking?”


Liz Flaherty has spent the past several years enjoying not working a day job, making terrible crafts, and writing stories in which the people aren’t young, brilliant, or even beautiful. She’s decided (and has to re-decide most every day) that the definition of success is having a good time. Along with her husband of lo, these many years, kids, grands, friends, and the occasional cat, she’s doing just that. You can find her at any of these places. She’ll be glad to see you! https://linktr.ee/LizFlaherty