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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Home is Where the Heart is



Eden, Texas is the hometown of my heroes in The Devil Ryder series and it’s a figment of my imagination. It came alive for me during the writing The Devil’s Daughter and it’s only seen briefly in the soon-to-be-release sequel The Devil’s Defiance, but I'm very drawn to it.
It’s a small town overtaken and run by a set of feuding cattle barons. As these two families battle it out, the town and its people get sucked into the drama. As a plotter I’m very detail oriented with my writing. I use outlines, maps, and character charts. I’ve got pictures and hand drawn maps of the town, and Eden has turned into its own character. This is the picture I bought to give me a visual of the town from Fotolia. com

I love stories where the setting becomes the focal point in the story. Stories like Gone with the Wind where Tara breathes with a life all its own. Without Tara there is no Scarlet O’Hara. They are, in a sense, one and the same. And it works.
I didn’t plan on Eden, Texas becoming such a driving force in my series but somehow it managed to do just that. Originally, I made the decision to use a fictional town because it would be easier to map out. In the sequel my characters start off in San Antonio and I’ve included much of the research that I came across right down to street names and the town city hall. So I love to do the necessary research to bring a real setting alive, but there was something so invigorating about being able to create a setting from scratch. It was a lot of fun.
Somehow The Devil’s Defiance took an usual turn and I ran across a piece of research that became a part of the story as well. It’s fun to wander off the beaten path sometimes. My characters found a map to the San Saba mines, where legend has it that the Spanish missionary’s buried a cache of silver bars. This piece of lost history went wild in my head and I somehow ended up with a story that is a cross between Indiana Jones and The Wild, Wild West.
But there are parts of the story that return to Eden. The angst between three brothers who love each other, but hate to admit it to anyone, keep bringing them back together again. It’s a compelling thing: This family thing. As much as family drives us crazy we all tend to gravitate back to what we know and love. Family is such a huge part of my life that I’ve somehow ended up with a family theme in all of my stories. After all, home is where the heart is.
I normally use pictures and hand drawn maps to bring my settings to life. I spend entirely too much time house hunting on the web for a home I'll never even see. What about you? Do procrastinate by searching for pictures of your character's home or town? Does it have to fit perfectly for you? 
I love stories about hometowns and small towns, where someone “comes home” after years away. What are your favorite themes in stories and have you recently read a story where the setting came alive for you? For those of you that write, do you like to write about real settings or do you like to create your own little town from your imagination? 
Since I'm releasing The Devil's Defiance next month, I'm revealing my book trailer for the first time here. I hope you enjoy it. 


video



The Devil's Defiance book two in The Devil Ryder series
Coming in September
  
New York City Lawyer Garret Ryder takes the law into his own hands when a vicious killer gets away with murdering his family. Nothing will stop him from delivering the justice denied him by the law he vowed to uphold. But when the killer kidnaps a judge’s daughter, his childhood sweetheart, he must decide if any price is too high to exact revenge.
San Antonio socialite Sophia Maria Osbourne doesn’t trust easily. With a dirty politician and a blackmailing judge for a father, she learned not to rely on anyone but herself. But when her father’s shady dealings lead to her kidnapping, she must place her faith in the man who stole her heart long ago, if she hopes to survive. 



20 comments:

  1. This sounds like an amazing book! I can't wait to read it!

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  2. Suzie ~ Good luck with your release. The trailer looks greatI And the book sounds wonderful.

    To answer your question, I use the names of real towns/cities in my writing. When dealing with London, I am very anal about using real places and paths people would take to get anywhere. There are so many people familiar with London, it would ring untrue if I did otherwise.

    When my characters head to the countryside, I will use the name of a real village or town. But the layout and everything about the town is a complete figment of my imagination. I have looked at real pictures of the village or town, so I get a feel for it, but I don't feel as tied down to being accurate down to every detail, like I have to with London.

    I have found myself flipping through picture after picture, but it's mainly when I have writer's block and think seeing something will inspire me. :)

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    1. I think as a Regency writer you're expected to be very accurate on your descriptions of London, of which I admire greatly the sheer amount of research that goes into writing a regency is daunting to say the least. I am always impressed with your ability to get the little details right, Ava.

      And I do more than my fair share of procrastination by flipping through pictures lol. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Suzie,
    There would definitely be a lot of freedom in creating your own town. Since I write stories set in England, I have to keep it as accurate as I can, but I still create fictional places within London. One of my favorites is the gaming hell (a place for gambling, and it really was called a hell and not a hall) I named "The Den of Iniquity". I hope to use it again in the future. I had it all pictured with a great introduction in my last book, but alas, I was over my word count and my editor made me cut it. :(

    I also couldn't find enough detailed research on the Bahamas for my upcoming book "Miss Lavigne's Little White Lie", so I created my own Caribbean island. The hero is a ship's captain and they make a brief stop there on the way to England.

    I don't procrastinate with research, but it can definitely suck me in and before I know it, my time is gone. I was super excited to find a drawing of the interior of Brooks, the gentlemen's club, yesterday. Rarely am I able to find exactly what I'm looking for at the time, but I hit the jackpot. :)

    The Devil's Defiance sounds like a lot of fun!

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    1. I love the sound of a gaming hell, sounds like my kinda place, Samantha ;) That really stinks that you had to cut that part out. Hopefully, you can use it in another book because it sounds awesome.

      And I can relate to rarely finding exactly what I'm looking for so kudo's to you! I love when I come across something that just sets the writing gears in motion!

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  4. Suzie, What a beautiful cover! I love it! I'm using a real location in my current series, but the next series is set in a fictional town. So my fickle side is showing. ;} As to pictures, I'm addicted to looking for pics to fit my characters. It's alarming how much time I spend on the computer, but not writing. Shhhh. It'll be our little secret. I'm going to have to pick up this series ~ it sounds wonderful!

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    1. Thank you, Andris! Shh, I won't tell I soul. I swear. It really is addicting and once you start it's very difficult to set the mouse down! We need a hot internet monitor to slap our hands when we stray for too long. But then again, I can see whole new reason to procrastinate that the hubby probably won't appreciate as much as I do. LOL. Thanks for stopping in and sharing.

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  5. Excited about your new release, Suzie! Congrats! Love the music in your trailer, too. So evocative.

    I use a mix of real and imagined locales. I love setting as character, or at least as a fully realized part of the story. The real danger is the time-suck, as you say. So easy to get lost in maps and pics and your imagination!

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    1. Thank you so much, Deb! Speaking of the music, and I may blog about this one day soon, but I bought this music at site called audio jungle. It's a place for Indie musicians/ artists to place their work. I wanted to support another type of Indie artist because I think it's important we support each other. If anyone ever needs music for a book trailer that might be a place you can check out.

      I think I use a good mix of both as well but this was the first time I used a completely fictional town, so it was fun. It is entirely too easy to get lost in those things. In fact, I spent hours yesterday going through pics for the trailer when I should have been editing lol. It happens. I think it's part of the job though. So glad you stopped in!

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  6. Congrats on your new release, Suzie! The trailer looks great -- very exciting!! I usually like to set my books in places where I've been, though I don't usually name them. Just in case! ;) I got lucky with my last book, it's set on an island in the Puget Sound. I haven't actually been there, but I've been to Mt. Saint Helens. Recently, a reader from Bainbridge Island told me that the story read exactly like where she lives and she could easily picture her home while she was reading it. Thank goodness for the internet!! ;D

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    1. You're very lucky you get to travel to these awesome places, Cynthia! I would love to do more traveling and visit some of the places I write about. I have been to Texas though, but when it comes to my Viking series Iceland is a little out of my range, lol.

      It sounds like you did a lot of great research on your story and the readers can tell. That's always exciting when someone compliments your story like that! Thanks for stopping in and sharing!

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  7. Congratulations on your new release, Suzie! I tend to use real locales in my writing, because so many people are so familiar with London and the rest of England, I feel it is necessary. That said, it isn't uncommon for me to create the layout of some of these places in my imagination. I always look for pictures of the area, try to get a feel for what type of place it is...but I am not very exacting with it, unless my characters are in a very, very popular place like London or Bath.

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    1. Thank you, Catherine! I love to use a good mix in my stories as well. It's always fun to imagine places as they might have been years ago. I love to visit old train stations because you can feel the history there. One of these days I'm going to attempt to write something placed in London but I know I'll be picking your brain once I do. The sheer amount of research for the time period is just overwhelming sometimes. But you all seem to make it look easy. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. What a wonderful trailer, Suzie!! Love the cover, love the story line, and could listen to that music all night, lol :) Congrats on your upcoming release!

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    1. I love that music, Erin. There's just something very serene about a solo guitar or a piano. Music can really help inspire a story and that piece just seemed to fit. Thanks for the compliment on the trailer, it took hours to get it right and I'm still tweaking it lol. Thanks for swinging by!

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  9. Congrats on the new release. Can't wait to read it! I use fictional places a lot. I tend to like to creat my own towns when I put estates in the country. That way I can create it the way I want it. And, I have spent a number of hours online researching houses until I find the picture I want to buy and post on my bulletin board for inspiration for "this is where my hero lives". Probably sounds silly, but it works for me.

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    1. Thank you, Jane. You're a sweetheart. I'm like you when it comes to creating a character's home. I like to visualize it with pictures. And it has to be perfect or else, my muse shuts down lol. I too, have a bulletin board I pin the pictures to over my desk. I love being able to look up and see where they live and what they look like. So you're not the only silly one lol. Thanks for coming by today!

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  10. Congrats on your new release, Suzie. Adore the cover and wow, what a book trailer. I based the town of Holland Springs on a number of towns I grew up around and one that I live near now. It's super fun to do that, but you have to remember where everything is and who owns what. Thank goodness for excel! ;)

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    1. Thanks, Marquita! I remember seeing in your first lady scribes post how much you love small town settings and I actually thought of you when I wrote this post. I knew you would relate. I think there's a certain feel to a smaller town than a larger city and it's very compelling. I've delved into contemporary's this year for the first time in my life and I have an affinity for the small town settings. I already have your book on my tbr pile. I just need some time to read it! Thanks for stopping in and sharing your experiences with me!

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