It was the escape Mariah had been seeking for years – maybe her whole life. This time in the Finger Lakes was everything her soul wanted – no, needed. She closed her eyes and let the memories fill her senses. Sparkling, cool lake water lazily lapping against her toes. Ripe grapes dangling from vines, the sweet aroma carried on a warm fall breeze. The rhythmic clip-clop of a horse’s hooves as a black buggy navigates quiet roads that lead to towns bustling with activity. A sumptuous meal of local fare where Mariah savored her glass of Riesling from a nearby winery. Why had she not come to the Finger Lakes sooner? 


This sounds like a traveler’s paradise, doesn’t it? Indeed, it is, but while Mariah is a fictional character in a not-yet-written novel, what this really represents is inspiration. The Finger Lakes are inspiring to many. 


Ah, inspiration!! 


It’s what every writer craves. It’s what helps a story take on life and become more than just simple words on a page. There are many places where a writer can find inspiration, but the Finger Lakes region is one of the premier inspiration paradises for writers and artists of all kinds. I know this because I have published more magazine articles and books since moving back to the Finger Lakes than I ever did where I lived before. 


Evidence abounds of how the Finger Lakes region inspires artists and photographers. It’s not unusual to see an artist set up in a field with an easel, canvas, and supplies capturing the splendor of a local farmer’s meadow, the majestic hills that rise from the lakes, wildlife, vineyards, barns, a Mennonite scene, historic buildings – you get the idea. Inspiration is literally down every road and around every bend in Ontario County.  


Writers also look for inspirational settings. Since the inception of F.L.A.R.E. – Finger Lakes Authors and Readers Experience, a grassroots group I co-founded with my friend, Brooke Baker, in 2019, I have discovered the Finger Lakes is a favorite setting for many authors’ books. New York Times, USA Today, and international best-selling author Kristan Higgins’ Blue Heron series is set in the Finger Lakes. Megan Ryder, Dorothy Callahan, Mary Pat Hyland, Lori Duffy Foster, Lorraine Lander, and Sally Crosiar are just a few authors who have found the same inspiration I have.  


Sometimes the towns in these novels are named after the actual area, but often the authors create fictional locations. My young adult Finger Lakes Series – Finding Atticus, Over the Edge, and Before I Knew – takes place in the fictional town of Keuka Shores, with nods to local places such as Grimes Glen in Naples, Seneca Farms in Penn Yan, and the Chidsey Hill gully in Branchport. Some of Megan Ryder’s books have characters dipping their toes in Canandaigua Lake at Kershaw Park. Whether the towns are fictional or real, the Finger Lakes essence pops off the pages and you know right where you are. 


There are plenty of bed & breakfasts in the area where writers (or any artists) can move in for a few days and feel right at home. If you are looking for a “B&B” that captures the quaint essence of the Finger Lakes, look into 1795 Acorn Inn, Chalet of Canandaigua, Cobblestone, and 1840 Inn on the Main.  


Local publications take full advantage of the inspiration of the area. Life in the Finger Lakes, a magazine that focuses on subjects in the Finger Lakes, has ongoing local interest stories, photographs, and more. Its content is a microcosm of the whole Finger Lakes Experience. Bluff and Vine Literary Magazine features writers who live in or write about the Finger Lakes. There’s plenty of inspiration for content in the region. 


From rustic to trendy, those who turn to the Finger Lakes for inspiration find just the right mood, tone, and backdrop to make their stories resonate with readers. No doubt, after reading these Finger Lakes-inspired stories, you’ll yearn to visit the area. What are you waiting for? Come be inspired!