by | Jul 11, 2016 | Extraordinary Guest Bloggers | 13 comments

I want to welcome our Guest Blogger, Twist Phelan, who is someone who is always on the go. It’s almost as if she’s on permanent vacation, except that—in addition to being an intrepid traveler—she is also a publisher and a quite well-disciplined writer. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Just read on!

Wanderlust is one of those great words borrowed from the German language (cf., schadenfreude, entlistungsfreude). Not-so-great romcom aside (sorry, Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston), the word gives most of us good feelings. It’s that desire you feel from within to get out there and explore: to see the world, to daydream about all the places you could go.
About three years ago, I stopped daydreaming and started traveling (again, that is; I lived on a boat for ten years in my thirties and spent that time going around the world). I’ve visited over fifty countries, including Spain, Italy, France, Portugal, Morocco, Germany, Croatia, Iceland, Australia, Thailand, Finland, Norway, South Korea, Japan, Turkey, Greece, Ireland, India, the U.A.E., Switzerland, South Africa, Netherlands, England, and Austria, to name, well, more than a few. 
How do I choose where to go? To me there are two kinds of destinations: On-The-Page and Off-the-Page. I try to travel to Off-The-Page places, with perhaps a two- or three-day stopover at an On-The-Page spot en route.
What in the heck am I talking about? It’s pretty well explained in the scene in The Guilt Trip (another movie reference; sorry!) where Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand are standing in front of the Grand Canyon. Barbra exclaims, “I always wanted to see the Grand Canyon!” and Seth enthusiastically agrees. After an awkward pause, Barbra says, “Um, how long are we supposed to look at it?”
While I was pretty wowed by the Grand Canyon, I’ve had the same reaction to other landmarks. When it comes to some destinations, I can get almost as much satisfaction through reading about them or looking at pictures on the web as I do by seeing them in real life.
For example—and I know many will disagree with me — I’m not a huge fan of the south of France. I don’t dislike it, but I don’t go out of my way to visit. I like looking at the beach at Cannes on Google Images about as much as I like looking at it in person. On the other hand, plunk me down in any town in Italy or Spain, and I am so enamored of the people/buildings/food/language/lifestyle, I immediately start trying to figure out how I can spend several months a year there, if not relocate permanently. The days fly by and too soon it is time to leave. As soon as I arrive home, I’m already planning how I’m going to return.
How do I fit writing into a life of what might seem like perpetual vacation? Early on I realized it would be easy to make an excuse to not write. (“But I’m in Paris!”) As a result, it has become a must-do-every-day + first-thing-in-the-morning thing. (Rather like when you’re a kid, and your mother says you can go out to play after you finish your homework.)
So that’s what I’ve done these past four years. The result? This year I launched the Finn Teller Corporate Spy mystery series. Finn Teller is a tough, funny, and independent woman with a high-risk, high-impact job. She is a corporate spy whose friends and family can never know just how dangerous a job she has.
Finn works for Strategic Information Associates, a CIA for private business. Her job ranges from ferreting out dishonest employees to discovering competitor’s plans to solving problems when the principals would rather not call law enforcement. Her biggest challenge is staying on the right side of the law—or at least not getting caught on the wrong side.

Finn’s personal life is no less challenging. She favors men with jobs that take them away from home (and the relationship) as much as hers does—professional athlete, international consultant, CIA agent, and currently Luc, a Paris-based war correspondent.
The books are set in various countries around the world. The first, FAKE, is set in Italy and Croatia. The second, EXIT, takes place in Greece. I also write a travel blog at, chronicling my adventures on the road.

 So how about you? What are some of your favorite Off-The-Page places?

Thriller Award-winning author Twist Phelan is a modern nomad, telling stories as she travels the world. She is the author of FAKE, EXIT, and the soon-to-be-released DOUBT in the Finn Teller corporate spy mystery series. Follow her travels and writing news at, on Facebook (, or Twitter (@twistphelan).

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  1. Twist

    Thank you , Rogue Women, for the invitation to post! Best wishes for the new blog–it's terrific! Oh and the shot with my camel friend was taken in Abu Dhabi. 🙂

  2. Unknown

    Great blog post, Twist.I've traveled the world, and enjoy many places. But the most unexpectedly happy place is Nova Scotia – all of it. I like Halifax, Peggy's Cove, the
    many harbors, evergreen forests, coastal trails, high rock cliffs, music, pubs, and the friendly, neighborly people. If I take myself off for a lengthy (months-long) singular writing retreat, it will be there (or County Tyrone, Ireland) that this native Floridian, citizen of the world, will seek first.

  3. S. Lee Manning

    Great blog. Love how you have been traveling, and love the stories. I will disagree with you about the south of France. I traveled abroad for the first time this year, and I loved the south of France, especially Avignon and Nice. Not crazy about Canne. Of course, I've been studying French forever – and it was fun to finally try it out.

  4. Twist

    Jo, I've never been to Nova Scotia. But you've made it sound wonderful; I shall have to put it on the list!

  5. Twist

    S. Lee, it was mostly Cannes and Nice that weren't my favorite. Inland, I find absolutely charming! And congrats on using your French. Despite the prevalence of English, I still get a thrill when I can speak to someone in their native tongue.

  6. DP Lyle

    I always play the game: Where in the World Is Twist? She's hard to keep up with. Great post, Twist.

  7. Twist

    Thank you, Doug! I will try to wear my striped shirt so you can spot me. 🙂

  8. Sonja Stone

    Twist, thank you so much for the post! I'm curious, do you travel alone? Does having company (or not) disrupt your writing schedule?

  9. Twist

    Hi Sonja!

    I travel with my husband; need to have someone close with bail money. 🙂 I write first thing in the morning or, if it is a transfer day, on the means of transportation (trains and planes are great). He knows I need peace and quiet, so he either works on his laptop or goes into town. I usually hit my page count in 3-4 hours and then we are off to explore/do things.

  10. Karna Bodman

    Thanks so much for writing about your travel stories (I applaud your energy to pack up and traverse the world). I'm afraid I've come to the point where "off the road" places are ones where I'd rather watch the video. (My husband once said, "I know you figure it took mankind 4,000 years to develop a good hotel room and you see no need to go back into the woods."). But some travel has been marvelous. As for the South of France, I did love Entebbe, and in Italy, what is more gorgeous than Lake Como (where you just might catch a glimpse of George Cooney who has a villa there – talk abut inspiration for writing a thriller). Now thanks again for sharing your travels with us….great post.

  11. Twist

    Thank you, Karna! I just spent a few weeks in northern Italy at Lago di Garda, the lake next door to George's. No movie stars, but fabulous sailing. 🙂

  12. Gayle Lynds

    Wow, Twist, incredible! Love your travel and your stories. Thanks so much for visiting!

  13. Sonja Stone

    Thanks, Twist! I'll be sharing your answer with my travel companions. 😉