How was your summer? I confess, I love structure so typically by the end of July, I’m looking at the calendar wondering when school starts. This year is different. I finished ENGAGED and decided to take time to enjoy life apart from the laptop. I didn’t even take it when we traveled to Wisconsin to meet our first grandson. That has to be a first!
We also went camping in the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon and returned to Wisconsin to meet our second grandson. We also been swam, binge watched West Wing, and our daughter and I worked on a tween series on surrender.
Last month I decided to fulfill a bucket wish of sorts, I took the kids on a day trip to Ashtabula, Ohio. Our son plans to be a history teacher and I love American history. We visited The Hubbard House, a home that hid slaves as they sought freedom. The code word for the home was “Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard,” so when this was said down south, it meant they were heading to the very home we visited. It was the last stop before Canada, and even though I write contemporary romance, it was tempting to lose focus on the tour and start thinking up some characters and conflict for a historical romance. Even our son looked at me and said, “Today could give you so many story ideas.”
If he only knew!
When I first toyed with the thought that I could write a contemporary romance, it came from that “what if” moment as I strolled the village of Speculator in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate NY. No where I go is a simple errand, event, or vacation. I’m constantly thinking if that grocery store (ENTRUSTED) or department store (ENGAGED) could be a backdrop for a budding romance, or a source of conflict between a hero and heroine who need to surrender something so they can find peace in Christ.
At first I only wrote what I knew because I was so new and unsure of myself. Although I still battle that, I’m not afraid to branch out and use a new-to-me place or career for a book. In ENTANGLED, my stylist was a huge source of help because the heroine, Carla Rowling, was going to cosmetology school. April lent me her book and I poured through it, taking notes and building plot ideas and potential conflict. With my Surrendering Opinions series, starting this fall, I need to meet with a friend who is in the television news business. My heroine is going to be at a local news station with designs to follow her mom’s footsteps, and her mom’s best friend is on a national news level. Of course, no romance is going to make that goal easy, and there will be someone standing in her way, sparks flying between them.
That series will take place in the Finger Lakes of Upstate NY. Years ago I worked for the county and traveled through small towns for home visits and meetings. I remember driving around thinking about different characters I could create, back then thinking it was nothing more than a little game in my imagination to play as I was too scared to consider writing. My hometown, Corning, will be a setting, as well as one of my favorite places I used to live close to, Watkins Glen. My desire is to showcase places in Upstate NY so readers can enjoy them and maybe even want to visit them, too. Many of the places, including 1000 Islands, I’ve not been, or only passed through. So it will be a lot of research when that time comes.
How about you? Is there a place you’ve been where you thought it would make a great backdrop for a romance? Did you read a book and love the setting so much you wanted to go there? Leave a comment with your answer and you will be eligible to win one copy of ENGAGED. North American winner, comments considered before 12AM Eastern September 1.
In ENGAGED, Trish Maxwell’s back in Speculator Falls with egg on her face and a lot of apologies to make. She left the mountain town for her dream job in New York City, only to come back unemployed. With no prospects, she works at her family’s department store and makes amends as she finds a new passion creating window displays for Adirondack businesses. She works hard and tries to convince the people of Speculator Falls she’s changed for the better.
As Trish pitches in with community events, she meets paramedic Wayne Peterson, the one man who doesn’t seem to judge her. She even makes friends with Jenna Regan, who helps Trish when people demand to know what’s next in Trish’s life. Living in New York City has been her goal, but the more she’s around Wayne and the Adirondack area, the more she’s drawn to revising her plans. Just when Trish thinks the plan for her life’s coming together, a second chance comes her way that could give her every career goal she’s ever wanted, but threaten to tear her and Wayne apart. Can Trish surrender fears about her future and discover God’s plan for her?