Friday, September 25, 2015

Setting the Scene

As important as the characters and their dynamic is to my stories, I also feel that the settings are just as important.  They help to better understand the characters backgrounds, upbringings, and every day life.

Balboa Park - San Diego
The entire reason I began to write FINDING HOME was that my 2nd (now ex-) husband and I were newlyweds and we'd honeymooned in San Diego.  I fell in love with the area during our week of sightseeing and sea air breathing.  Months later, back in the cold Michigan winter, I daydreamed often about the beach - the large expanse of blue dotted by boats in the distance and surfers near the shore.  I longed to walk in Balboa Park with it's lush gardens and beautiful buildings.  Since reality stopped me from doing as I wished, I wrote it into existence.
La Jolla, CA
When FINDING HOME was finished, I wasn't sure if it was even good, so I submitted it to several writing contests.  One of those contests was held by none other than the San Diego chapter of Romance Writers of America.  It took a lot of courage to send it to them.  I knew if I got one detail wrong on the landscape or locations that, of all people, THEY would be able to call me out!  Luckily for my photographic memory, they loved it and knew I'd been there to give such detail!
While that first book was making the rounds in contests and getting lost in translation of various publishing houses new formatting on submissions, another story began to take shape.  One song, All We'd Ever Need by Lady Antebellum, hit me with such force, made a loss feel so brand new that I also couldn't help 'getting it out'.  

My town - Blissfield, MI
Since the story was based on an actual relationship I'd been in, it was easy for me to write about the town I live in (Blissfield, Michigan).  I knew the locations and details, but making sure I properly described them for others became the challenge.  I wasn't exaggerating when I talked about the quaint tree lined streets, the annual River Raisin Festival, and even the women's only gym!  It really is a great little town.
quiet dock, perfect setting
Sharing that story wasn't just about the relationship, but also the places we went, the things we did, and the feelings that were shared.  Granted, at some point the characters took on their own life and so the story is half 'us' and half make-believe, but the town, the motorcycle ride to Toledo, and most especially the dock late at night were all real.  TAKING CHANCES wasn't just a love story about a couple, it was also a reflection of my love for my town, county, and the place where my roots run very, very deep.
I can tell you, I will be visiting both locations again in books - I've already been back to California (even if only in fiction) in PLAYING WITH FIRE.  And I will return to it once more, at least for part of the story, with the final -yet to be titled (YTBT) - story featuring Mitch and Molly.  Blissfield and Lenawee County will set the backdrop for DOWN FOR THE COUNT (featuring Ty and Lily) and another YTBT final in that trilogy with Sunni and Vince.

Stay tuned, because I also know that I'll also eventually show some love to the Great Smoky Mountains, Nashville, scenic Northern Michigan, and heating it up in Florida.  Not to mention hopping over to Ireland and England....I REALLY can't wait to actually go there and do some research! But for now that is a few years off.

I love travel, but never get to do it!  At least for now I can live vicariously through my characters and stamp up my passport book!

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