Novel Settings

Today I thought I’d run with the ball that Nina threw out in her last post and talk about setting. Setting can be many things to a story–a backdrop, something that defines a character, or it can become a character itself. Think, for example, of Harry Potter–Hogwarts is absolutely essential to the story. Setting can also be dangerous–raise your hand if you’ve ever read a book in which the writer spends pages and pages describing the setting. I usually skip those scenes, as they bore me to tears. I tend to think of settings as a backdrop. They are integral to my stories in that I find it hard to imagine the characters anywhere else, but they don’t usually become characters themselves.

Durham Cathedral fall 1985

Durham Cathedral

How writers decide where to set a book is a curious thing as well. I almost always think of a setting first–inspired by something I’ve done, seen, or read–and then the story follows. Equally curious is the fact that some places–beautiful, wondrous places–spark no inspiration at all. I spent some time in Nebraska last year, and in Paris this year, and neither of them, interesting and unique (and different) as they are, gave me any ideas for a story. Not yet, anyway.

My first book, Stirring Up the Viscount, is set in Durham, England. I lived there for a year in college a very long time ago and vividly remember it, and when I sat down to write that book, Durham is where I pictured it.

Tynemouth Priory. Attribution: Chris McKenna (Thryduulf)

 

 

My second book, Secret Promise, is set in Northumberland, in a town I’ve never visited, but when I found a picture of Tynemouth online, I knew the book had to be set there.

Mansion of Sylvester T. Everett on Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH, 1885. Attribution: Cornell University Library.

 

 

I am working on two books at the moment. One is the third book in the series which started with Stirring Up the Viscount. It’s set in northern Maine–a rather drastic change from Durham, and a place I’ve never been. A fourth book, completely unrelated to anything, takes place in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, in the 1880s, inspired by a talk I heard last year about Cleveland’s Gilded Age. I’ve got ideas in the hopper for books set in Pompeii and London.

If you’re a writer, how do you decide on your settings? If you’re a reader, what is your favorite setting for novels? Where would you love to see a story set? You never know–it might give me an idea. 🙂

 

About Marin McGinnis

A lawyer in real life, Marin McGinnis feeds the more creative part of her soul by writing Victorian era romance and mystery. She's spent almost half her life in a tree-lined, unabashedly liberal suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. She's been married to the same great guy for over 20 years, and has one teen-aged son. They all live together in a drafty old house with their two standard poodles, Larry and Sneaky Pete. While her very first book will languish under the bed, the next book, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next two books, Secret Promise and Tempting Mr. Jordan, are also available from Wild Rose Press. Marin currently serves as President of the Northeast Ohio chapter of Romance Writers of America and is hard at work on the next book. You can find her here, at marinmcginnis.com, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Guest Blogger — Shelley Munro

Earthquakes, Art Deco Napier and New Zealand

Earthquakes have been in the news recently in my home country of New Zealand, since another large one struck Seddon in the South Island yesterday. Aftershocks rippled through the region and into the Wellington area of the North Island. Luckily for me, I live in Auckland and have yet to experience the earth moving in this manner. We have fields of volcanoes in my city, but that’s another blog post!

Napier-Masonic Hotel exteriorBack in 1931 at 10:47am an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale struck the seaside town of Napier in the North Island of New Zealand. Fires broke out and soon destroyed the buildings that had survived the earthquake. 157 people died in Napier due to the earthquake and the resulting fires.

Instead of rebuilding the Victorian-style town immediately, the locals formed a planning committee and made a careful plan for their new town. After much research, they decided to build in the new Art Deco style. This was a practical decision because the buildings were square in shape and robust. Most desirable should there be another earthquake! The Art Deco style was also cheap to build, which was a must in the current economical climate of the depression. The third reason for choosing Art Deco was that it was very fashionable.

Napier-Colenso BuildingThe Market Reserve building was the first of the new Art Deco style structures to be constructed after the quake. The builders were instructed to use rivets on the steel frame instead of welding in the normal method. The planning committee wanted as much noise as possible to send a message of hope to the residents. Rebuilding had commenced!

These days Napier is a modern town, but the Art Deco buildings remain as a feature and bring lots of tourists to the area. My hero and heroine in my contemporary romance, One Night of Misbehavior visited the Napier area for a weekend, and like me, the heroine rather liked the plain, blocky style of the buildings and the decoration that comes from intricate zigzags, starbursts and Egyptian and Mayan designs on the facades.

Napier-MusiciansMy hero and heroine visit the Art Deco store to purchase clothes to wear to a 1920s costume party. The Art Deco flavor of Napier is enhanced with music, souvenirs, cars and costumes. Even the fountain is an Art Deco design to blend with the town buildings. Visitors can take a walking tour around the different buildings or do a self-guided tour. It’s a pleasant walk with lots of cafes and pubs along the way when you require a break. There’s also a long stretch of beach to amble along, and if you’re a fan of wine, the local wine-growing region shouldn’t be missed.Napier-vintage car

If you’re ever down this end of the world, I highly recommend a visit to Napier, or if a trip to New Zealand isn’t on the cards, grab one of my New Zealand set books and do some armchair traveling instead. J

New Zealand is a beautiful country. If you were to visit New Zealand what part would you visit first? What would you like to do first?

~*~*~

Shelley Munro is tall and curvaceous with blue eyes and a smile that turns masculine heads everywhere she goes. She’s a university tutor and an explorer/treasure hunter during her vacations. Skilled with weapons and combat, she is currently in talks with a producer about a television series based on her world adventures.

Shelley is also a writer blessed with a VERY vivid imagination and lives with her own hero in New Zealand. She writes mainly erotic romance in the contemporary, paranormal and historical genres for publishers Carina Press, Ellora’s Cave and Samhain Publishing. You can learn more about Shelley and her books at the following links:

WEBSITE: http://www.shelleymunro.com

BLOG: http://www.shelleymunro.com/blog

FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/ShelleyMunroAuthor

GOODREADS: http://www.goodreads.com/ShelleyMunro

PINTEREST: http://www.pinterest.com/ShelleyMunro

TWITTER: http://www.twitter.com/ShelleyMunro

NEW ZEALAND SET BOOKS: http://www.shelleymunro.com/books-by-theme/#newzealandsetting

 

One Night, FINAL200x300Shelley’s Latest book: One Night of Misbehavior

He wears his scars on the outside. She keeps hers safe inside.

Charlotte Dixon ignores her stepmother’s edict and, in an act of disobedience, attends one of the social events of the year—a masquerade costume ball. Charlotte’s naughtiness escalates when she dances and smooches with a sexy mystery man. The night of anonymous passion that follows makes her yearn for a different life, but the next day she’s back to her dull routine of household management.

Advertising tycoon, Ash Marlborough is about to set a private investigator on the trail of his nameless princess when she waltzes right into his place of work. Charlotte is shocked to meet her masked man in the flesh, and even more perturbed when he asks her out on a date. Despite craving another night of sexy loving, she doesn’t have time for a man, not when she wants to reinvent herself and grasp a new, improved life with both hands. But Ash knows what he wants, and he’s determined to win the heart of his princess. Let the dance of seduction commence.

Warning: Contains a conniving stepmother, selfish stepsisters, a grandmother with fairy godmother tendencies and a sexy masked man who is willing to face them all for the love of a good woman.

Purchase link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CB8801A

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Travel vs. Moving

I love to travel, which is probably a good thing, because I’ve spent all my life moving, from one place to another. I’m going to give the short blog, list version of my travels….

Long Island to Fort Lauderdale, FL

Fort Lauderdale to Grand Rapids, MI

Grand Rapids to Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh to Manila, Phillippines [a side trip to see the Pope and visit distant family there]–a once in a lifetime opportunity that I earned by writing an essay. Paid-for-trip by the Knights of Columbus… I always stick a dollar in their Tootsie Roll fundraising. 😀

In here, I travelled the country with a mission group, stopping in many states of the western side of the United States–MN, WI, KS, OK, TX, NM, CA, CO…

Pittsburgh to Fairfax, VA

Fairfax to Steubenville, OH [for college, where I got married]

Steubenville to Denver, CO [for husband’s post-grad]

Denver to Steubenville, OH [back to our old stomping ground to start off “real life”] ***also where I started writing!!

Steubenville to Fairfax, VA [where we lived with my parents and husband studied for the CPA exam]

Fairfax to Decatur, IL

….and then we joined the ARMY! haha.

Moving vs. Travelling

There are always two sides of the moving coin. The excitement of starting off new, of tweaking behavior, trying something different. And the sadness of leaving friends and family behind. I think what I love about moving around so much is the chance to grow more roots, make new friends. Find something different to make my life fuller. Maybe the truth is…I’m not much of a traveller at all. I like being home. Maybe that’s why I’m destined to move so much.

Now, if I could just get the Army to move us to Belize! or Ireland! or Spain–for a season! 😀 Have a great weekend, folks. Enjoy where you are.

And don’t forget to comment for a chance to win this month’s prize.

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

It’s All About The Experience, Right?

California.Lake

Campsite views

Sometimes a travel idea just doesn’t work out exactly like I planned.

When my boys were little I thought it would be a great experience to go tent camping in the mountains of southern California. In my mind I had visions of campfires, hikes and relaxing by the lake.

The reality? It was over 90 degrees, our campsite was perched on the side of the mountain where the ground was so hard, my husband broke three of our tent spikes just putting up the tent. The incline of our site was so steep, if I could have found a rope to tether my kids to a tree, I would have. We couldn’t go boating on the lake BECAUSE it was 90 degrees and they only had aluminum boats for rent. Fried children on the lake – no thanks.

But it’s an experience we won’t forget.

Tubing on the Colorado River, Yuma, Arizona

Tubing on the Colorado River, Yuma Arizona

A few years later I was talked into another trip I thought my boys would love…boating on the Colorado River in Yuma Arizona.

The night we pulled into town it was 103 degrees at 8pm!

Not being a water girl, I planned to spend my days under an umbrella on the shoreline with my young daughter while the boys and hubby did their water-skiing and boating.

When the temperature climbed to 116…the water started looking good, even to me. At which point I was talked into tubing.

Another experience I won’t forget.

Whether we write small town contemporary romances, paranormals, historicals, time travels or romantic suspense, there is always an adventure to be had. There is always something that our characters experience that adds to the fabric of their backstory or their current journey toward their HEA.

Over the years I’ve touched electrified fences in Amish country (because I didn’t believe they would HAVE electrified fences!) I’ve walked down a mountain in Vermont carrying my skis after running over my husband and he had to be taken down the mountain by snow-mobile stretcher. I’ve watched my kids swim with sharks off a LaJolla cove because I was too chicken to join them. And all those memories of adventures are sitting there waiting to be used in a story somewhere.

Because life really is all about the experience.

Have a funny experience you can share with me? Your comment just might win you a free digital download from the Decadent Tease line!

 

About Debora Dennis

A believer in second chances and that time should never be an obstacle to finding love, Debora writes time travels with modern snark and spice! When she's not writing, she's spending time with her family, reading, or trying to figure out a way to get chocolate into every dish she serves.

Traveling Romance

ArizonaIf you subscribe to this sort of thing, I must have been a nomad in another life. I just can’t wait to find out what’s over the next hill. Or see what the shining lights are across that stretch of plains. If I’m home too long, I get the itch to travel. I get grouchy. I feel deprived. Weird, huh?

But I never leave home without my trusty ereader loaded with my latest TBR’s. After all, there might be some down time. It would be a shame to waste it not reading.

I read my first romance at twelve. It was Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I’m fairly certain it was the first thing I read that included any descriptions of England, islands, pirates, ball gowns and the way someone else might have lived that was so different from the way I lived. It truly swept me away. I’m still awed by the work she put into her novels. Although it wasn’t written for my age group, her attention to detail, her vivid and thorough descriptions were captivating. As a published author, thinking about them still makes me go, wow!

San FranciscoAnd when I travel, I try to catch those little details that will bring my work to life. The way one small town differs from another, the way one big city is so opposite another. The architecture, the landscaping, the town squares or skyscrapers, and the accents of the citizens. I look at houses or buildings and wonder who lives or works there. I want each thread carefully woven together to resonate with readers in the same manner as hers did with me.

SONY DSCBefore I could afford to travel, I went lots of places through romance novels. People can scoff as much as they want, but if all of the writers I know are any indication, you can pretty much count on the settings being based in reality, and the details being accurate. Not that we don’t have our way with a plot thread, but it is fiction after all. When I think of reading or writing, I think of big sweeping stories, and grand adventures that change lives. But with that grand adventure, I want the details that bring the setting to life.

The novels I’ve written thus far are set in America because that’s the place I’m most familiar with. I won’t say it’s easy, but it’s comfortable. And it’s a big, diverse place. Every time I travel I come up with more ideas for stories. I’m constantly taking pictures out the car window to keep for inspiration.SONY DSC

Do you have a favorite location you enjoy reading or writing about?

Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for this month’s swag!

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go.” -Dr. Seuss

normalwvviewI live in the mountains. Actually, I live in a valley surrounded by mountains and when I was a little girl I imagined that living in a bowl would be exactly the same.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that some of the sights I see every day–endless trees bursting with color, gurgling streams where rocks jut out to create the perfect sleepy fishing hole, fluttering snowflakes that settle inches thick to blanket my part of the world–are things people spend money to vacation to see.

Of course, most of us don’t appreciate what we have and long for that which is far away and exotic. I have found those places in books all my life.

The bustle of a New York city street, munching croissants in a street cafe in Paris, sloshing through the constant rain on a busy London sidewalk. I’ve been all these places and more. An Irish pub, an Italian villa, a Bahamian beach bungalow.

The thing is, it didn’t quench my desire to see these places. It only made me want more. I set the first novel I wrote in a city, a big one, and struggled to write it because I knew nothing about living in a big city. I did throw in a visit to a small town, which I think is one of the highlights of the story. I’ve since realized to write what I know; I can tell you everything about small town life. I suppose there are people out there that long to read about the simplicity and connection that comes with living in a small town.

I have hopes of being able to take some “research” trips one day. Tell me about your favorite books where the setting stood out as much as the characters.

(My first recommendation? Anything by Nora Roberts set in Ireland. Seriously, wow.)

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

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