Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Weekend Edition




This weekend we're Springing into Love with the release of the 9th Seeker collection, featuring some of your favorite Seeker authors. Leave a comment today for the chance to win your own ecopy. Five winners will be announced in the next Weekend Edition.


We Have Winners

 Giveaway rules can be found here. Drop us a line to claim your giveaway at seekers@seekerville.net. Please allow us the 6-8 weeks per our legal page to get your prizes sent out. 

All prizes not claimed in 8 weeks go back into the prize vault. We wish we could contact all our winners individually, but we'd rather write books! 

 Here Comes the Bride! Toss the Bouquet, with Ruth Logan Herne. Helen Gray, Caryl Kane and Annie Sturt are winners of this romantic collection.


Monday: Former police officer turned writer, Janice Cantore is our special guest today. Her post is "Ripped from the Headlines—Current Events and Fictional Stories." Sharee Stover, Jennifer Rumberger and Tanya Agler are the winners of Burning Proof. Jackie Layton is the winner of a Janice Cantore book of choice. Thanks, Janice!!


Tuesday Sandra Leesmith talked about the importance of using what you know in setting your scenes. Wilani, Jeanne T., Sue Anne Mason and Crystal are winners of an audible book by Sandra. Please go to Audible.com and select which of the three you want before you email us. Renee McBride is the winner of one of Sandra's books. Since there were only four winners for Audible and five were promised, Sandra is giving away a children's book to DebH. for the Gupster.


Seeker Glynna Kaye was your hostess Wednesday with her post "The Golden Age of Reading" -- Does It Still Impact You Today?  Jill Weatherholt and Tracey Hagwood are winners of Claiming the Single Mom's Heart.

Thursday we joined Cara Lynn James with her post,"The End of the Road — how to keep your story's ending exciting and satisfying." Sandy Smith is the winner of a $10 Starbucks gift card.



 Next Week in Seekerville 

Monday: Mary Connealy revisits "Taglines." What is a tagline? Can you create a tantalizing tagline for your manuscript? Two commenters will receive a copy of Mary's May 4th release,  Runaway Bride.

Tuesday: So excited to bring you the May Contest Update today. Each edition gets bigger and better. We have a contest diva/divo to introduce you to as well. The prize vault is open.


Wednesday: Barbara White Daille returns to Seekerville today with her post " 7 Secrets to Writing While Stressed." Stop by to meet this author of heartwarming characters and hometown charm.

Thursday: Seekerville is rolling out the red carpet for yet another royal visit. This time it's The Blurb Queen! Time to give your blurb the royal treatment. Bring your blurb questions for her majesty to address. A $25 Amazon gift card is up for grabs in honor of her highness!

Friday: Best of the Archives: Today we feature a post by Ruth Logan HerneComments are closed each Friday so we can achieve our reading and writing goals.


Spring into Love

Seeker Sightings

Glynna Kaye, Claiming the Single Mom's Heart , sighting in Glendale, AZ. (Also spotted in Indiana, Georgia and Nebraska!) Have you spotted it? You can also find Glynna Kay on Harlequin blog sharing her thoughts on Mother’s Day and her series The Hearts of Hunter Ridge.


Join Seeker bestselling author Debby Giusti in the Craftie Ladies of Romance Garden of Books Match Game! The fun lasts all weekend. Winner announced on Monday.
http://tinyurl.com/zwrwmqw






Christian Fiction Reader's Retreat Facebook Party. Christian Fiction Reader’s Retreat is having their first Facebook Party on Monday, May 2, from 6 to 9 PM. Mary Connealy hosts the 7 to 7:15 PM time slot, and Debby Giusti is live from 8 to 8:15 PM, EST. Don’t miss this night of fun. Also check out the CFRR to be held in Nashville, AUG 23. It’s an event you won’t want to miss.  

Order Your Copy Here!

Random News and Information

Thanks for sending links!

The May Calendar is UP!

Attention Writers! Your input is needed. We are compiling a list of your recommended conferences, annual workshops and retreats for fiction writers. Please send your suggestions to seekers@seekerville.net. Thank you!





Today is Independent Bookstore Day. 
Support your Indies.








  
The Grammar Queen Recommends: 24 of the Most Basic Grammar Rules (Grammarly)

 Amazon Giveth, Amazon Taketh Away and Now… Amazon Giveth Again! (The Book Designer) ***

 Have the Courts Given Google a License to Steal from Authors? (Helen Sedwick)***

What Is Your Potential? (Writer Unboxed) 

 Amazon Sales Rank: Taming the Algorithm (ALLi) ***

Stephen King Used These 8 Writing Strategies to Sell 350 Million Books (Inc.)


Facebook Basics for Writers (The Write Conversation)

Best Use of Story Flashbacks (Books & Such Literary Mgmt) 

 Amazon Files Suit Against Sellers of Fake Reviews (The Digital Reader)

 What Type Of Book Editing Do You Need? And When? (Bookbaby Blog)

Is Book Perfection in Your Midst? (The Book Designer) 

You Can Go Home Again: The Transformative Joy Of Rereading (NPR)

Why the Right Book Reviews are So Important to Authors (The Write Way) 

Getting to The End: How to FINISH a Book (Writer Unboxed) 

 The Closing of Harlequin Blaze / Harlequin Historical (Passive Voice)

How To Weave a Message Without Pummeling Your Readers (Writer Unboxed)***

 ***Highly Recommended Read!*** 


Have a great reading and writing weekend! 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Best of the Archives:The Unauthorized Cheat Sheet of Self-Editing Tips for Writers


 You've finished your manuscript. Now it's time for self-editing.


This is a simple checklist for what I think of as a surface editing of your manuscript.


1.  Hooks. While you should treat every chapter beginning and ending as being equally important, there is none as important as the opening hook. This was covered in my post, Gotcha!


And remember, avoid ending a chapter with a character falling asleep. Your goal is to make the reader stay up well past their bedtime because there is no good place to stop.



2.  Sentence Starts: Do a visual of your manuscript, training your eye to look for repetitious sentence starts and sentences that are similar in structure. Vary your sentences.
&

3.  Pump up weak sentences. Weak sentences include the following: Overuse of adverbs ending in LY.  Overuse of the word IT, especially to end a sentence. Overuse of prepositional phrases to start or end a sentence.

 Resources on topics 2 & 3: Renni Browne and Dave King's Self Editing for Fiction Writers-Chapter 11, Sophistication.

Make Your Words Work by Gary Provost: Chapter 2, Style.

Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V Swain: Chapter 2, The Words You Write.



4. Weasel Words: Common weasel words include empty transition words. So, -Well,- Just,- But, and However. Develop your own weasel word list. Your list should include your personal darling phrases that are overused. Use the 'find' option to evaluate if you have indeed overused that word or phrase. 

My personal rule of thumb is to allow myself one of each weasel word per chapter. Melissa Jagears shares thoroughly on the topic here.


5. Action/Reaction.  If you can master this, you will effortlessly create emotion on every page. 

"Your goal is to elicit the maximum amount of emotion. Emotionally involve the reader and force them to turn the page." The Hero's Two Journeys, Michael Hauge and Christopher Vogler.

"A story is a succession of motivation-reaction units.

"Motivating stimulus-> Reaction  ( Feeling-not stated, action and speech)" Dwight V Swain, Techniques of the Selling Writer, Chapter 3, Plain facts about feelings.

Additionally, a guaranteed way to prevent episodic writing to provide MRs that:

-have meaning to your character/s
- have relevance to your story 
-provide forward story momentum 


6. Scenes.  Remember that scenes are live. It's in sequels that you can alter the passage of time. Scenes must have a Goal, Motivation and Conflict and propel the story forward. Scenes are only as important as how they relate to the hero and heroine. A favorite book on Scenes is Novelist's Essential Guide to Crafting Scenes by Raymond Obstfeld. It's out of print so you'll need to hunt down a used copy on Amazon or Half-Price Books.


&

7.  White Space: Evaluate your white space. Seek a balance of narrative and dialogue to keep the story moving. If you have long blocks with no white space assess for back story dumps, long introspection and long internal monologues, all which slow the pacing and encourage the reader to skim.

 Another excellent resource for evaluating your scenes re # 6 & 7 is of course, Debra Dixon's Goal, Motivation & Conflict. Don't overlook Randy Ingermanson's excellent article from his Advanced Fiction Writing Series- Writing the Perfect Scene. 

Also Chapter 6 of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Browne and King, Interior Monologue.




8. Write Tight: There's nothing wrong with beginning or ending with a prepositional phrase, but if it's not needed leave it off.  Writing tight also refers to redundancy, repetition and passive writing. In fact, Write Tight by William Brohaugh, Chapter 2, lists sixteen types of wordiness to trim.

But, find a balance when you tighten.  "Cut fat, not muscle. Don't destroy clarity as you seek to tighten your prose."  Remove anything ..."that impedes the flow of words or sentences."
-Brohaugh.


9. Show don't Tell. Showing instead of telling covers a lot of territory:

  • Deep POV
  • Sensory layering
  • Active writing
  • Showing emotional responses
  • Eliminating distancing the reader
 If this area confuses you or if the feedback you are getting is that you are showing instead of telling, or showing and telling, brush up with Jill Elizabeth Nelson's Rivet Your Reader with Deep Point of View.


10.  Spell Check and other easy fixes: We all know the horrors of spell check, but don't ignore spell check to verify the simple red lined and blue lined errors. Do a complete spell check of your document. You have to pay attention to avoid adding errors. Questions about grammar? Grammarly and The Chicago Manual of Style Online are excellent investments.


 Author Diana Cosby has shared the most conclusive self editing worksheet ever. You can find it here: Writing Tight: Editing for Impact.


 All done? Now create a paperback version of your book and read it again. See this great tip detailed on the blog of Molly Greene: Writer.



Once your surface edits are complete it's time for your Beta reader or critique partner to dig in for those deep edits that lead to revisions.

My print craft books.

Ever wonder why there are so many craft books/tools for writers?

Two reasons:

1. Writers are always looking for the magical secret to writing an amazing book.

2. We all learn differently.

We all have different areas of strength and weakness, and we process information differently. These are my current favorite craft books, including those mentioned above.

The Creative Writer's Phrase Finder by Edward Prestwood

When You're the Only Cop in Town by Jack Berry and Debra Dixon

And, I am currently reading and absorbing, Writing with Emotion, Tension & Conflict by Cheryl St. John.  St. John shares a warning about writing advice:


"There are a lot of books and articles on writing. Always look at the source. Study the instructor's work. Don't write by anyone else's rules without knowing that the concept behind a rule works and is proven to work. Find out why the rule came into being. Rules you don't understand are restrictive. Knowing why rules exist sets you free to follow or break them with wisdom and expertise. You have to learn the rules  to know when to break them to your advantage and to the story's advantage."
This post first appeared in Seekerville December 13, 2013.

Rocky Mountain Reunion
Tina Radcliffe is hiding in Arizona where she writes sweet and inspirational romance.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The End of the Road-How to Keep the Last Act of Your Novel Exciting and Satisfying



Last month I wrote about the Muddle in the Middle, the hardest section for me to write and maybe for some of you, too. I hope you don’t mind but I’m going to repeat the last part of that blog, Training for Battle. Then I’ll go into the Crisis, Black Moment and Act 3, the last act and the End of the Road for your story.

Part 4: Training for Battle

The hero will suffer through a number of tests such as interpersonal challenges, maybe even physical challenges. He’ll encounter obstacles that are difficult to overcome, physically, emotionally or mentally. Again, he’ll look inside himself and learn to adapt to change and conquer the barriers to his goal which he encounters through out the middle of the story.

Follow these principles: Every obstacle the hero faces must make the journey more difficult, causing him to dig deeper. He’ll find a character trait he didn’t have before. He’ll get better at the new skills he’s learning.

Each time the hero improves his skills, he becomes more of the person he wants to be, and he has a glimmer of hope for the future. So give him a glimpse of something he longs for. Let him kiss the girl. (Now I know where to add a kiss!) Things are looking good for the hero!

When the hero and heroine feel empowered and on their way to victory, you’ll pull the rug out from under them.

Since they’ve grown and matured and developed important skills, they’ll be prepared to face the problems that lay ahead. Very soon they’ll smash right into the Crisis, the worst situation of the story and of course, the most difficult to overcome.


Crisis/All is Lost: It has the whiff of death, of terrible defeat. The hero might want to run away and not face the end of his old way of thinking. He might feel he can’t possibly defeat the obstacle blocking him from the attainment of his goal. He loses hope. But fortunately, this is a false defeat. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know that, yet.

Ask yourself: what event strips the character of hope?

Black Moment: This is the darkest, lowest point because the main character has lost everything. It could be physical or emotional loss or both.


Create the Black Moment Event.

It’s based on the heroine’s greatest fear. The lie she thinks about herself holds her back throughout the story and feels totally real to her. But the Epiphany forces her to learn that what she believes is a lie. Only the truth that sets her free. Now she can break down the barriers preventing her from moving forward. She can attain her goal, and in a romance, the love of the man she cherishes.

What can the heroine do at the end that she couldn’t do at the beginning?

Overcoming her greatest fear enables her to grow into the new, stronger person that the reader wants to see. She’s able to run the race and know she can win.

How do we create the Black Moment?

The Black Moment Event comes from going back into the hero’s backstory to find a Dark Moment in his past that has shaped him. From it we pull out the Greatest Fear and the Lie he believes, but shouldn’t. The Greatest Fear is the EVENT you will recreate in some form, and the LIE is what you will make your character believe is true as inescapable as an EFFECT of the Black Moment.

The result of this is the truth setting your hero free, to escape her flaw, and then a Character Change/Hurrah finale where she does something at the end that she wouldn’t do at the beginning.

Examine her Greatest Fear to find her acute pressure point. Bring back the greatest fear by recreating the pain of a terrible past event that she’s never truly forgotten or overcome. Pain from the event in her past is still with her in the present and reaches into her future. It can be regret, abandonment, anger etc. This new event produces the same emotions, the same conclusion, the same LIE she believes. Slowly push your heroine to confront this fear right from the beginning of the story.

The Black Moment should be strong enough to bring her to her knees and re-evaluate everything she believes in. This will lead her to a healing Epiphany. She must look back and see what she did wrong. Only then will she come to some truth that will open a new door to a new future.

You start the hero on a journey and she has to want something, but be unable to attain it. During the journey, the external plot points affect the internal character journey so that the hero begins to want to change, and even opportunities to change. When she reaches the Black Moment, she realizes her need to change, and her Epiphany causes this to happen. For us to believe she’s changed, she has to be tested. This is the Final Battle.

ACT 3: In Act 3 the protagonists muster the courage to overcome their inner obstacles and remove the emotional armor that has kept them apart throughout the story.

Final Battle



In the Final Battle, she accomplishes what she couldn’t even imagine doing at the beginning. She’s tempted to give up since this is such an enormous obstacle to overcome. But the Epiphany has changed her because she’s learned to vanquish the lie and believe in the truth. She can finally press on to the Triumphant Ending.

You wage a Final Battle to show change has really taken place. It’s not just a mental assertion; it’s now a part of her entire character. You wage this internal struggle by using external elements.

To sum up the ending: The heroine faces the last, but most difficult challenge. What she couldn’t do previously, she can do now. She confronts the lie (or her inner flaws which have kept her from change). She falters, then embraces the truth/epiphany, and she forges ahead in victory.

Here are the steps to follow:

Step One: Storm the Castle. What is the final thing the heroine needs to do to prove she has changed? (Just saying she’s changed for the better isn’t enough.) She’ll have to prove it in a tangible way. It’s an internal transformation which she shows through her actions in the external plot.

Step Two: She’s human after all, so she’ll falter, or be attacked by the Lie. Ask: How can her fears or flaws, her dark moment from her backstory rise up to make her doubt herself? This shows that change is hard, even though she’s experienced a moment of enlightenment called the Epiphany. Letting go of past beliefs which have proven false are still difficult to give up.

Step Three: Grasp the truth and hold on! She’ll be reminded of her epiphany that has recently made her see the truth and this gives her strength to continue on.

Step Four: Carpe diem! Victory! How does she complete her journey by showing she has confronted the lie, and chosen truth. How can she win?

Climax: 

External Relationship Arc: How does fear threaten the potential of the relationship one last time?

Internal Relationship Arc: How do the characters prove they don’t want to continue without the other anymore?


Final Image / Resolution: Show how the characters are now fully themselves, in love, and perfect for each other. Show how much change has occurred. A wedding scene is a great example of how two characters at odds at the beginning finally come together in harmony.

There’s a beautiful sunset at the end of the road.



Happily Ever After: We picture our couple, who have emerged from all kinds of trials and tribulations, as people deserving and capable of living happily ever after. There’s nothing like a satisfying ending that’s truly a new beginning!



This information came from Susan May Warren’s book Conversations with a Writing Coach. I highly recommend it!

I’ll be giving away a $10.00 gift certificate to Starbucks, my favorite place for lattes and caramel frappuccinos. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.
Spring into Love

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

"The Golden Age of Reading" -- Does It Still Impact You Today?


Having recently come across a few long-time “keeper” books I’d forgotten (one a hardback collection of horse stories given to me by my grandparents when I was eight years old), I started thinking about how books have long been a part of my life and how I’ve always loved reading--and especially reading during those mid-late grade school years which can be, for many children if they are fortunate, what I’ve heard called “The Golden Age of Reading.”
 
When my family would move to a new town, the first settling-in priorities included enrollment in school, finding a church, and getting a library card. Scholastic book order delivery days were eagerly awaited. And often as a family, we took turns reading books aloud to each other--Dickens’ A Christmas Carol being a long-time favorite. Growing up, we often found BOOKS snuggled in the branches of the family Christmas tree!
 When my reading skills developed sufficiently to explore new reading worlds on my own, I devoured poetry, history, world travel and geography, biographies and autobiographies, science (I loved astronomy, geology, archaeology and animals)—and, of course, FICTION. Which got me thinking…who were a few of my favorite fiction authors during those mid-late grade school years--and why?
I was born horse crazy, so a no-brainer in the “why” department included Black Beauty and books in Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague series and Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series. These books--their settings, situations, and adventurous, come-alive characters--filled my imagination.
The Laura Ingalls Wilder stories of a pioneer girl captivated me, for I’d grown up on the real-life stories of my own ancestors’ experiences and came from a close-knit extended family, too. Some not-so-well-known books riveted me, as well, such as Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s The Velvet Room, in which I immersed myself as a sixth grader. As a child who at that point had lived in five different small towns in a four-year period, I could identify with the challenges and dreams of the young heroine. And who could forget amateur sleuth Nancy Drew?
 I’m currently writing contemporary inspirational romances set in small-town, mountain country Arizona. They reflect my love of family and close-knit communities, and how important a role God plays in our lives--especially when we cooperate with Him. (And yes, I slip horses in whenever I reasonably can!) Due to long-time interests, however, I also could have easily gravitated to writing inspirational romantic mysteries or westerns. (Who knows, maybe one day I’ll add those to my writing repertoire!)
 What books linger in YOUR memory from your mid-late elementary school years? What about them drew you? Something about a particular character? The setting? A situation that you identified with? The fact that they were in a series where you could revisit them time and time again?
If you’re a WRITER, share with us your elementary school “golden age” reading favorites and how you think they might be impacting what you’re writing TODAY.
Do you see anything in your overall youthful reading interests that might be fun and “fair game” to incorporate into one of your stories now or in the future?
How can you make YOUR book one that will linger in a reader’s mind long after the last page is turned?
And if you’re a READER, what were your “golden age” fiction favorites--and do you still gravitate to those topics / types of books when looking for something to read today?
 
If you’d like to be entered in a drawing for a copy of my May 2016 Love Inspired release, “Claiming the Single Mom’s Heart,” mention it, then check the Weekend Edition to see if you’re a winner!
Glynna
 
GLYNNA KAYE treasures memories of growing up in small Midwestern towns--and vacations spent with the Texan side of the family. She traces her love of storytelling to the times a houseful of great-aunts and great-uncles gathered with her grandma to share candid, heartwarming, poignant and often humorous tales of their youth and young adulthood. Her Love Inspired books--Pine Country Cowboy and High Country Holiday won first and second place, respectively, in the 2015 RWA Faith, Hope & Love Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards. Claiming the Single Mom’s Heart, her tenth Love Inspired book (and the second in the Hearts of Hunter Ridge series) is available now!
Their Unexpected Love. Sunshine Carston is looking for more than beautiful scenery when she moves with her daughter to Hunter Ridge, Arizona. She’s looking for answers. According to family legend, her ancestors were cheated out of their land by the Hunter family. But when she meets Grady Hunter, Sunshine’s mission is endangered—how can she investigate the Hunters when she’s falling in love with one? When Grady’s mother becomes ill, Grady steps in to help her run against Sunshine for town council. But what will Grady say when he finds out about Sunshine’s investigation? To rise above the past and forge a future together, they’ll need a love stronger

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Setting Your Scenes

Sandra here to talk about setting.
In Tucson with Mt Lemmon in background

Grab some coffee and let's chat. I have plenty of Chocolate Velvet coffee. smile

Bigstock photo

The strangest thing happened on the road on our way to Roper Lake State Park. We were driving down a four lane highway out of Apache Junction into the desert.  A red sedan passed us, but as they passed, they must have startled a red-tailed hawk eating carrion on their side of the road because the giant bird flew up, barely missing the red car and smacked into the motor home.

View from my motor home of sunrise over Roper Lake

We heard this loud thump and I was just heartsick. I prayed like crazy, hoping the bird had died quickly and wasn’t suffering.  I really prayed hard, mainly because I felt so badly that we had hit such a beautiful bird. His wingspan practically covered the width of the motor home.

The road narrowed and after about fifteen minutes, we discovered we needed to secure a loose door.  There were steep rock walls around us so not much room to pull over. Finally we came to a pull out and stopped the motor home. The minute we stopped the hawk flew up from the front of the motor home and landed on a rocky outcrop above us. He looked amazingly fine—kind of glaring at us like ‘what were we thinking?’

Redtailed hawk at High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon. He was injured and rescued.
We checked the front of the motor home and there were a few small feathers on the grill and one of the plastic/fiberglass grill bars was broken. Evidently the bird had grasped the grill with his sharp claws and held on as we drove down the highway. From ranger talks about birds of prey, we knew that the bird had powerful claws. He must have used all that power to hold on to the grill.

But do you ever have those experiences when you know that there is more involved than just the incident? I had been thinking about the power of prayer and how God works in so many different and amazing ways. I had this strong feeling that this incident was meant to show me the power of prayer. If God would answer my prayer that the beautiful creature had survived unscathed, wouldn’t He be answering all of my other prayers?

Don’t you love how He uses our life situations to teach us?

This incident impacted me so strongly that you know it is going to have to go into one of my future books. Our life experiences add up to make us who we are. I spend most of my non-working time outdoors. I love nature and the lessons I have learned there. So it stands to reason that the Lord will use experiences in the outdoors to teach me.

Because of my love for the outdoors, I put my experiences into my books. Most of my reviews comment on how I have captured the settings. Our Seeker friend Vince who reviewed LOVE’S DREAM SONG, wrote “Her descriptions of the landscape are the next best thing to being on location yourself. I know this because I've been in many of the same locations described in her books.  Well of course I have because that is what I love. The settings are what I observe.

My settings come alive because I have been there and experienced them. Vince also stated “Leesmith loves, lives and breathes the southwest in her personal life and in each word she writes. Her home is in the southwest but she mostly lives out of her RV home so she can go to the locations she writes about.
Photo taken on Sunset Hike at Lost Dutchman State Park of the Superstition Mountains

Yes, I have lived most of my whole life in the Southwest, so it stands to reason I will be able to bring my experience to my writing. Vince wrote, “Sandra Leesmith depicts the ever-changing southwest light to perfection. She also captures the amazing variety of sounds the desert makes -- an abundance of sounds for all who will really listen. Then there are the desert fragrances carried on the wind and which change as the humidity changes. Leesmith also knows all the wildlife that roams at night. She reports sleeping outdoors and noting the tracks of all the night creatures that have walked around and over her sleeping bag. My favorite is when her characters are laying down at night and looking up at the stars. Each constellation has a Native American folktale to explain it.” Thank you Vince for appreciating my descriptions and setting.


I have lived in many different places and have traveled as Vince mentioned. So I can have settings in different places. My husband and I traveled a lot in our motor home. LOVE’S REFUGE takes place in the Pacific Northwest where we spent many summers escaping the desert heat. I Blog 4 Books wrote in her review, “Love's Refuge takes place on a secluded island in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. The scenery and the simple lifestyle drew me right in and nearly had me packing my bags for a visit.”


Pacific Northwest
The setting for LOVE’S PROMISES is Lake Tahoe located in California and Nevada. We owned a home there for twenty years and my parents also lived there. So we visited often. The experiences we had working on our home there are found in this book. Miranda A. Uyeh, in her review wrote, “The setting was truly breathtaking. Lake Tahoe sounds like somewhere I’d truly like to visit someday. Sandra wove in the environmental issues of this place within this romance story so that a reader can understand the value of nature in our lives and how the beauty of it can add to the riches of human living/existence.”


Bigstock photo of Lake Tahoe
Hubby and I won a trip to New Orleans in 2002 and while there we took a cruise up the Mississippi on the Delta Queen. While aboard ship, I interviewed the crew and CURRENT OF  LOVE was the result. Seeker friend Kav writes, “And the exotic setting -- a steamboat ride down the Mississippi -- added to my fascination. The author made me feel and smell and plain ol' experience the trip right along with the hero and heroine. Honestly, I'm pretty certain I know exactly what Mississippi mud smells like now!  Readers of that book tell me they felt like they had been on the cruise themselves. I tell shoppers that this book is my feel good, fluffy Hallmark movie romance.



My current WIP is set in Hawaii and La Jolla in Southern California. The hero and heroine are surfers. My family lived on the beach in Southern California during my high school years and I surfed. So you can imagine how much fun it has been to bring up all of those memories. Btw the heroine is Debbie Martin from last year's Christmas novella, HOLIDAY HOMECOMING and it appears she might have found a new love while visiting her son in Hawaii.


Bigstock photo
So my experiences are unique to me. What are your experiences? They will all be different. That is what I love about hanging with writers because we all come from different parts of the world. We all have different backgrounds and interesting aspects of life.


Bigstock photo Maui surf
You don’t have to travel to write an interesting setting. You just need to be observant of the environment you are in. Julie Lessman wrote a whole series in a setting she had never been to, but she brought into her settings the experiences of sound, smells, tastes and sights of home that she knew from her own experiences in her home setting.

Ruth Logan Herne’s books are mostly set in Western New York where she lives. When you read one of her books, you feel like you are in the small town she establishes and you feel like you know those characters. She captures the emotional drama that occurs between people in a small town because she observes where she lives.

Audra Harders and Tina Radcliffe bring the Rocky Mountains to life.  Glynna Kaye puts you in the heart of the Arizona high country.

When you read books written by Missy Tippens, Pam Hillman, and Myra Johnson, you know you are in the South. They bring their own experience into the setting that brings it alive.

So how do you do that?

·      Observe the settings around you. Are you outdoors, indoors, in a small town, large city, a farm or the beach?

  • ·      Write down what you experience in that setting.
  • ·      Document the five senses. What do you see, hear, smell, feel and taste?
  • ·      Note unique features of the setting
  • ·      Research historical information about the setting.
  • ·      Study the geological history of the setting.
  • ·      Take note of the environmental issues of the setting.
  • ·      Gather photos of your setting.
Once you have done this, start incorporating all of the information into your story. Often I discover information that will become plot twists that I incorporate in the story. For example, research into the setting of the Mississippi Steamboat gave me the dark moment in CURRENT OF LOVE.  Much of the suspense in LOVE’S PROMISES derived from environmental issues that were unique to the Tahoe Basin. Janet Deans historical, COURTING MISS ADELAIDE, revolves around the orphan trains that she learned about in her research of her neighborhood.

You will have your own experiences and deep profound loves. Please comment and let us know something about your setting where you live. Maybe some interesting history.


I will be giving five winners a copy of one of my Audible books. Please indicate in the comments that you would like Audible. I will also give away to one winner a copy of choice from my list of books. I picked the last of the oranges off my tree so please help yourself to a fresh orange. They are so sweet and delicious. 


Oranges off my tree. (I have plenty more - smile)


Sandra Leesmith writes sweet romances to warm the heart. Sandra loves to play pickleball, hike, read, bicycle and write. She is based in Arizona, but she and her husband travel throughout the United States in their motor home and enjoy the outdoors. You can find Sandra's books here on Amazon. Three of Sandra's most popular books are also audio books at Audible. You can read more of Sandra's posts here.