Tourist Tuesday

Last week I featured a charming little park in the middle of downtown where I live. It has lovely flowers, soothing fountains, red brick paths, and a charming gazebo. A place for romance – or – murder :-O

This week, I’m going to share a few other local things that spark my muse.

Welcome to my neighborhood….

Where there are ….

Things that go nowhere…

Things that lurk in the fog…

Things abandoned in the woods…

And a red waterfall….

What do you see in my neighborhood, I’d love to hear

 

 

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Tourist Tuesday

As a writer, I’m always clicking pictures of places I could use in one of stories and … not always in the way you would expect. For example…

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A walk in a forgotten city garden.

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She’s amazed at the beauty and wonders why no one else is there.

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Drinking her lemonade, she decides she’s glad to have it to herself.

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She makes her way to the gazebo. She smiles thinking she’s like a princess with her own private garden….only instead of Prince Charming waiting for her,  there is a killer. One who grooms the garden to lure his victims in. She’s a fly in his spider web.

I love this park…the beauty, the contrast of the business city around it, but I can’t help but think a serial killer would love it to 😉 I’ve made places we go into book settings so often, my hubby will now ask, ‘Is someone dying here or having great sex?’ Because with me it could go either way 😀

Have you ever been somewhere and have an unexpected way to use the setting hit you?

 

Writer’s Wednesday

I’ve blogged a couple of times about the importance of settings. While I think we as writers talk a lot about settings it still is the most under used element in writing. To write a story with a ‘vague’ setting is like writing a romance without ever describing your hero. As I talk to few writers, I often hear that they don’t want to use a place they aren’t familiar with. Now while I agree that it can be a challenge, I also think the internet has open the entire world to writers.

My novella, Taking a Risk, is sit in the Amazon. Never been there. But afternoon spent viewing travel sites, nature sites, and cultural sites, I felt I could write a story there. I made a list of some of the native wildlife, the temperature and general weather conditions for the time of year my story, and some of local history. I bookmarked sites I felt I would I return to as I was writing.
Also don’t overlook social media as a great reference source. I’m friends on Facebook with fellow writers from all over the world.
I’m not saying every book needs to take place exotic place. Remember the setting is a character. The ‘real’ tooth fairy has no place in a romance. Taking a Risk needed to be take place in the Amazon. The jungle was as important as the hero or heroine.
As a pantser the only ‘planning’ I do before beginning a new WIP is start pulling pictures from my character notebook. The setting is included in this skeleton list I start off with. I have to know where my story takes place.

As with certain characters, settings have some stereotypes….

A small town adds quaintness but it can also amp up the suspense. A secret everyone knows about but refuses to admit. What will they do to keep their skeleton in the closet? The Inheritance takes in a small rural town. Beth (my heroine) doesn’t know where to turn when things start to get ‘creepy’ – everyone seems to be a part of the conspiracy. Beth also has to deal with one grocery store that doesn’t carry kale which she needs for her morning smoothie. Now while this doesn’t play into the suspense it does add to her frustration.

Or maybe the cold harshness of a big city works better with your story. The chaos of urban living adds a barrier to your hero seeking a peaceful evening to seduce your heroine.

Of course, I love to take a setting and twist it into something unexpected. For example isn’t this garden beautiful? A wonderful place to sit and read…or so one of my heroines think. But in reality a serial killer selects his victims from this park.

Lacey spends hours reading here unaware a serial killer watches her - planning her torture and finally her death

Lacey spends hours reading here unaware a serial killer watches her – planning her torture and finally her death

An oasis in the heart of a city

An oasis in the heart of a city

flowers the color of blood

flowers the color of blood

Don’t overlook the power of a setting. Also don’t be afraid of it. Let your muse run wild with a place, what unexpected things can happen in a place?

Writer’s Wednesday

Today I’m sort of self-promoting… bouncing ideas so to speak. I’m going to do a class – Settings, The unexpected twist. The focus of the class will be how to use settings in ways the reader will not expect. I plan on using a lot of pictures as prompts. This is currently the format I’m thinking of…

Here is what I think happens....

Here is what I think happens….

For example, fog usually means bad things are lurking. Or provides a standard setting for horror/paranormal/fantasy scenes.
But what IF it provides cover for two forbidden lovers?
…the hero brings the heroine here to propose marriage. He’s a CIA agent and needs to figure a couple of things about what’s going on with an investigations. Her mother is really ill so she has wanted to keep their relationship on the down low. The fog can be used as cover for a lot of things. The serial killer tracking the hero. The jealous sister who knows the minute the heroine gets married she’ll be left with caring for their mother fill time. Ect.
Or IF maybe the hero wanted for the fog to roll in to ask the heroine to the bridge because waiting on the other side is her birth mother. He leads over to the woman, the heroine has spent the last six years searching for.
The ‘homework’ assignment that would go with this lecture would be to pick one of the three pictures and come up with two ways the setting could be used in an unexpected way.
Now of course this is a ‘light’ version of course material but based on this snapshot ~ I’d LOVE LOVE LOVE thoughts on this set-up.
AND don’t forget tomorrow starts the…

Make sure to stop back

Make sure to stop back

Motivational Monday

I’m back… I wish I could say I just returned from vacationing on a white sandy beach with an incredibly good looking beach bum feeding me grapes and massaging my feet. BUT reality isn’t nearly as exciting (this is one of the reasons I write).

Usually for Motivational Monday, I post a picture of the hunky inspiration for my WIP hero however today, I’m talking about finding motivation in other places 😉

Saturday my family and I attended an art festival in a town about 80 miles away. The architecture is AMAZING. I took tons of pictures and developed tons of ideas, I’ll share some more tomorrow.

My current WIP is an urban fantasy. Zareb, my hero, works for the council as a ‘peace keeper’,

between the light and dark non-humans.

Zareb's protectors
Zareb’s protectors

The gargoyles on the building instantly struck me – first of all because they are not common in Northern Michigan. Second, because of their faces… instantly, I knew they stood guard over the building Zareb lives in. One is the dark and the other is the light. You’ll have to read the book to find out what role they play 😉

I’d love to hear about a building or a place that excited your Muse.