For the writers amongst you, I've put the links to my series on how to write a Harlequin Presents in the sidebar. Scroll down to the “For Writers” category, and all the posts are listed there to make it easier to find in future. Hope you enjoy. πŸ™‚

I'm still buried in this Russian book, but things are looking better. I was browsing the web for images for my inspiration file, and I came across these that I want to share with you. (Yes, these were taken by talented photographers who are not me.) πŸ™‚

I believe this is from the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, but I'm not quite sure. (It might also be from the Smolny Convent.) Years ago, and I won't say how many, ahem, I had the privilege of traveling to Russia. We flew to St. Petersburg first (still called Leningrad, if that gives you an idea), and spent 3 days there before boarding an overnight train to Moscow, where we spent another 3 days. It was an amazing trip. The palaces are beautiful, and the landscape was prettier than I expected it to be. Fortunately, we were there in May, and it was quite warm. It also never got fully dark at that time of year.

This next picture is of Peterhof, Peter the Great's palace on the Gulf of Finland. We got to tour it, and I have a photo of me standing on one of the bridges over the canal with this palace in the background. It's an amazingly beautiful place, full of gilt and art and antiques. My hero also has a palace, but it's not this grand. And of course he had to buy it back from the State after the fall of communism. But looking at these photos gives me an idea of what his palace is like, though on a smaller scale.

This is the Winter Palace, also known as The Hermitage Museum. It's a gorgeous palace on the banks of the Neva river. We spent hours wandering through the galleries. I see this photo as representing my hero's home. The Winter Palace is actually quite grand and vast, but this small slice of it makes it look like it could be a grand house on an estate somewhere. I especially love the snow capped trees.

More info on the Winter Palace here.

I love finding photos for inspiration. It's one of the most fun parts of beginning a new book. Thank heavens for Google! You can have photos at your fingertips and start writing about a place you've never been in a matter of hours. Yes, I've been to Russia, but I've never been to Argentina (The Devil's Heart, July 2010 UK) or the Arabian desert (Kept for the Sheikh's Pleasure, Sep 2010 UK). As much as I'd like to go to these places for real, I'm grateful for the tools that bring them to my fingertips. Even with Russia, it's been a long time and I needed a refresher.