Behind the Scenes: Home Where She Belongs

Home Where She Belongs is set on Abbott Island, which was inspired by beautiful Kelleys Island in northern Ohio on Lake Erie.

My husband Tim and I love to visit Kelleys. On a trip home several years ago, I told him I wanted to set a story there. From that, Sadie and Joel's story was born.


One of the beaches on the island. 


One of the paths Sadie runs.

Esther the blue heron. 

I met Esther on the beach one day and she let me get a close-up of her.


The house I used to imagine Sadie's home.


I pictured Joel as actor Josh Kelly.


I pictured Sadie as actress Rachel Boston.

Here's a little bonus:

Page one of Home Where She Belongs:

Sharp breaths escaped Sadie Stewart’s lungs. Her legs wobbled like cooked spaghetti as she pushed to reclaim her routine and run the rest of the route. Confidence surged through her as her running shoes crunched dried leaves and pounded Abbott Island's hard dirt trail. Rosie, her beloved canine companion, kept rhythm with each step.

Aged maples decked in orange and scarlet bent across the trail and shaped a golden canopy. The pungent scent of wood smoke hung in the air. Rosie's red flag of a tail slapped the calves of Sadie's legs as she bounded alongside her. Her dog never judged her or caused her pain. Not like the man who had ripped her emotions to shreds.

A chill wind from Lake Erie rushed at their backs and pushed them toward the only place where Sadie found peace, her grandparents’ home. Every summer for twelve years, she’d lived in the warmth and comfort of their care, played with her friends, and helped her Gram clean the rental cottages. Grandpa had deeded the property to Sadie, but she’d neglected the place for three years. Now, she depended on the island rentals to rescue her from a life of regret and hurt.

Around the curve, she pushed her legs harder. A daily run helped clear her mind and build her strength. “Run, run, run.” She panted. Run, run, run... from him.

Fear dogged every step as she raced toward freedom from the man who shattered her heart. The memory of Bryce Shaw's screams and accusations played akin to a recording in her head. She prayed he'd give up and not track her to the island.     

His constant text messages and incessant calls obliterated the peace she sought. Three months and the man refused to give up his game of superiority over her. She'd changed her phone number once, but he must have dragged it out of her father. Or Dad offered her information without hesitation. At least the island’s spotty cell service might delay the next threat to tranquility.

Tomorrow she'd drive Coop, her Mini-Cooper onto the ferry and search for the closest place to trade in her number. This time she'd keep it to herself, except for the handful of people familiar with her story. She'd enlist the folks at the phone store to help her block the two people who tormented her. Two birds with one stone, as Gram used to say. Her father, who had never loved her, yet forced her to work for him, and Bryce, the man who had destroyed her trust, both fueled her determination to start over. As she ran, sorrow swallowed her heart. The hurt and humiliation weighed heavy as an anchor.


Have questions?

Email me at penny.frost.mcginnis@gmail.com

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