Thursday, November 8, 2012

Guest Blogger Jennifer AlLee: Fact in Fiction!



When I first started writing, I believed the best thing to do was to set my stories in a town I made up. That way, I could control everything, from the businesses lining Main Street right down to the weather patterns. Sometimes, this really is the best way to go. But with my last two novels, I found some fabulous benefits to using honest-to-goodness, real life locations.

They come with a built-in emotional connection.
Have you ever read a book or watched a movie set in a place you were familiar with? Or even better, in your hometown? Didn’t it give you a little zing when you realized you knew exactly what the author was describing? You’d driven down that street, or eaten in the same coffee shop as the main character. That kind of instant emotional connection is priceless.

Even if it’s a location the reader has never been, you can achieve the same results. In my novel, The Mother Road, about a third of the book takes place on Route 66. Most folks in North America are at least familiar with the iconic stretch of highway, even if they’ve never driven it themselves, and have an idyllic image of what that road trip might be like.

The details have already been worked out for you.
While creating a town from scratch has its perks, it can also be exhausting. How big is the town? What kind of plant life is indigenous to the area? What style is the architecture? The questions are endless. When you use a real, already-on-the-map location, it’s been decided for you. Of course, you need to have that information at the ready so you can weave it into your story. Which brings us to the next point…

Research is easier than ever.
Once upon a time, you really needed to visit a location to be able to get a feel for it. While there’s no substitute for the hands-on approach, it’s no longer the only way. The Internet has opened up the world. When I was researching Route 66, the web was my best friend. Blog posts, websites, and articles all provided valuable information. In one scene, Natalie and her sister order a meal in The Road Kill Café. I knew they had some colorful names for the food options and I wanted to make sure I got them right. So I did an image search on Google for “Road Kill Café Menu” and found several menu pictures that were clear enough for me to read. Now, instead of merely ordering a petit steak and fried chicken, my characters dine on Long Gone Fawn and The Chicken that Almost Crossed the Road. Much more fun.

Another oft ignored research tool is YouTube. People love to post vacation videos, and while they may not be exciting from a Travel Channel standpoint, they are incredibly useful when you want to see what a location looks like. The same goes for Google Earth. In most cases, you can get a street view of exactly where your character might be standing at any given moment.

So once you know everything there is to know about the location of your novel, how closely do you need to stick to the facts? Must every stop light, mailbox, and gas station actually exist in real life? Or are you able to fudge it a little? Honestly… that depends on the story. With a location like Route 66, that is so beloved and documented, it was important to me to keep it 100% real. There isn’t a spot that I took my characters to along that road that doesn’t exist: the Oatman Hotel, Granny’s Closet, the Blue Swallow Hotel, Wigwam Village… you can visit any one of them right now.

When you’re dealing with less iconic venues, you have more leeway. I set my latest novel, A Wild Goose Chase Christmas, in Monrovia, California. Why Monrovia? Initially, it was for the sake of expediency. I had a very short deadline with AWGCC, and I didn’t have time to create a town from scratch. For years, I lived in and around Monrovia, so I’m very familiar with it. As it turned out, Monrovia was the perfect place to set my story. The more I wrote, the more it all fell into place, and the happier I got.

Even though I was able to use a lot of real life local color – Izzy’s craftsman style home, the Old Towne Street Fair, the YMCA – there were some things I needed to make up. For example, Max Logan, my hunky museum curator, needed a museum to curate. Now, there are museums in Monrovia, but not wanting to step on any cultural toes, I decided to create one of my own. So I let Max work at the California Pioneer Museum in nearby Pasadena. Another real town, but a made up museum.

It’s an awful lot of fun weaving fact into fiction. And if you do it right, no one will even stop to wonder which is which.




 About the book - Upon her grandmother's death, Izzy Fontaine finds herself in possession of a Wild Goose Chase quilt that supposedly leads to a great treasure. Of course, once the rest of the family finds out about it, they're determined to have a go at the treasure themselves. And, if that weren't enough, local museum curator Max Logan claims that Grandma Isabella promised the quilt to him. What is it about this quilt that makes everyone want it? Is Izzy on a wild goose chase of her own, or a journey that will lead her to the treasure Gran intended?

Bio – Jennifer AlLee believes the most important thing a woman can do is find her identity in God – a theme that carries throughout her novels. These include The Love of His Brother (Five Star, 11/07), The Pastor’s Wife (Abingdon Press, 2/10), The Mother Road (Abingdon Press, 4/12) and A Wild Goose Chase Christmas (Abingdon Press, 11/12). She's thrilled to be working on her first historical series with the amazing Lisa Karon Richardson. Diamond in the Rough is the first book in the Charm and Deceit series, to be released in 2013 by Whitaker House. And, as if that's not enough, her novella Comfort & Joy will appear in the Christmas anthology, Mistletoe Memories (Barbour, 9/13). She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. Visit Jennifer's website at www.jenniferallee.com

Ruthy here! Jennifer has graciously offered to give away 3 copies of A Wild Goose Chase Christmas today! Leave a comment to be entered and we'll announce winners in the Weekend Edition...  Also, fresh coffee inside... A selection of creamers for your discriminating palate... And donuts which we should not be eating because we should be STARVING ourselves to get slightly thinner before Christmas: A pre-emptive strike, very Seal Team 6-friendly, right????  Come on in, grab virtual food and bless you for being here today!

75 comments:

Helen Gray said...

Since Ruthy's already provided coffee, here's orange juice and milk for the non coffee drinkers.

I've done both fiction and non-fictional towns. However, my fictional ones are really a town of my acquaintance that's been fictionalized--to give me more latitude.

Helen

Melissa Jagears said...

Jennifer, I've seen your name on The Mother Road and thought "why do I know this name" I should have image searched, seeing your photo I know why, we talked in a group in some lobby at some ACFW conference....anyway, I now remember. Ugh, I feel like an old old woman lately sometimes , my memory is failing me!!

I write historical, so the google earth doesn't help me as much as it helps the contemporary writers, so I've basically chosen a real town and write it with as much detail as I can get, but change it to a fictional name because some history nut is going to know that the bank president died of whooping cough and left the bank without a president for 3 months when I happen to have a character talk to the bank president or something like that which I wouldn't know unless I read everything in the world about the town and interviewed everyone with ancestors from there....anyway, I'll mention big nearby towns with real names, but so far I've chosen to stay with a fictional town name BUT use a real town for writing setting just to take advantage of what you talk about though.

Mary Connealy said...

HI JENNIFER! Thanks for being on Seekerville. And Helen is here with the coffee. As dependable as the sunrise. (I won't mention the baffling daylight savings time and how the sun doesn't exactly rise like it's supposed to...Helen is offically MORE dependable than the sunrise!)

Lyndee said...

Hi Jennifer,
Thanks for the great post! Like Melissa, I also write historical, but I have used the area of the country that I am very familiar with and created my own town within that parameter. I can see what you mean about using a town that's already in place though. I am guessing I will be doing that sometime in the future!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Oh my gosh, this is on my to-read list! And I'm not even a dog person. I just love the premise, too cute!

Cindy W. said...

Thank you for your post today Jennifer. This is a keeper for me. I'm just moving from writing poetry to novels so research is newer to me than probably some people. I have done research for some poetry but it was minimal.

Melissa Jagears - thank you for the great idea of taking a real town and just giving it a new name. DUH! Something so simple didn't even register with me before. Congratulations on contract too!

Have an awesome day! Thanks for the goodies Ruthy!

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

CaraG said...

I love to visit places first discovered in books. I'd even go out of my way to stop in at Wigwam Village, or any of the other places you've mentioned. And the Oatman Hotel-- that name really intrigues me.

On the flip side, if I've been to a place, I'm even more apt to buy a book that takes me there again.

Do you ever get feedback from any of the real places you've mentioned in your books? About how their foot traffic/tourism has increased due to your novels?

Ruhty, your warm welcome was just what this cold Eastener needed this morning.

Thanks, everyone, for another great post.

gilliach(at)yahoo(dot)com

Jenny Blake said...

Welcome Jennifer. (dont enter me my copy arrived today).
I like reading about both types of settings. For fictional ones I like to know roughly where they are like what real town are they near so I can get a rough idea where the book is set.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Helen, I do that too! I based Jamison New York on Angelica, New York... but fictionalizing it gave me space to make things up.

In a big city it's easier to be "direct". New York's New York. Chicago is Chicago.

But a small town makes it very easy to trip on someone's toes.

And that's not good! Also, if you get something wrong, folks will let you know. I like fictionalizing reality.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Jennifer, I love the Route 66 saga.

It's so totally Americana and who knew that it would spawn movies and books back when the Interstate systems began?

Great use of the times!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Jennifer and welcome to Seekerville. What a great premise and who doesn't love a Christmas story?

I have a question about your last name. It looks like initials together. Did you do what I did and combine a middle and last name? I did that because of all the Sandra Lee Smiths out there that were writers of all things. smile

Anyway back to you. Have a wonderful day here. And best wishes on all of your writing ventures. And thanks for the great advice on using local places of interest to tug at your heartstrings. smile

Jackie said...

Jennifer,

Thanks for joining us.

I did create a town, Fuller Island, for my first story. It took so much work that I used it for another story and my current WIP. I'm not published, I love my town, and I thought why not?

Brandilyn placed one of her stories in Wilmore, KY where I live. It was so fun to read, plus I love all of her books anyway.

Thanks for sharing.

Jackie L.

I love the sound of your Crazy Quilt story.

Mary Curry said...

Hi Jennifer, I've been waiting for this book ever since I first saw it listed as upcoming. Such fun.

Thanks for the post. Heading to work, but I'll read carefully when I get home.
Oh, I'd much rather curl up with a second cup of coffee and Seekerville than head into the SNOW!
Must.get.moving.

Amy Campbell said...

I would love to read Jennifer's book!

Debra E. Marvin said...

Donuts are great. Our local big chain grocer has some called crumb cake donuts. Oh. Yes. they are good. I'll bring a dozen! (Wegmans, Ruthy)

Melissa J - In some cases Google Earth works for historicals. Many main roads as well as the overall landscape of hills or not/ creeks or rivers or not help.
Oh= especially helpful in Europe/UK where those buildings WERE there at the time!

Hey Jennifer! Nice to see you here. Don't tell anyone I stop here first before I go on over to Inktropolis.

I love using existing sites and I'm happy to throw in something I need for the story such as your Pasadena Museum. Did you point that out in the author's notes?


Rose said...

Hi Jennifer,

Your book sounds great. Although, I'm an echo of Helen and Ruthy, I've always set my book in a real town but gave it a fictional name....until now. My Heartsong Presents that comes out next year is set in a real town.

I love the fact that you have many different publishers. Can you tell us how that happened, on purpose? by chance? And what are some of the challenges writing for various publishers?

Bridgett Henson said...

Jennifer, Your book sounds intriging. I usually use a real city, but fictionalize to fit the story.

I love researching with youtube, but thanks for the Google Earth tip.

DebH said...

hi Jennifer!
great to see you here at Seekerville to talk about your work. It's neat to see how you use a mix between "real" and made-up for your towns.

I'm looking forward to reading your book. I'll pause to see if I win it - but if I don't... Happy Birthday to me (i'm telling my hubby what he got me for my birthday *heh*).

So exciting to see you here.

Carol Moncado said...

I'm pretty sure I have something by you on my Kindle... Gonna have to break it out...

I've based my fictional town on my real town. Because then we can have a Panera and an Andy's Frozen Custard and no one can say "But you don't have that!"

I've also based my fictional historical town on my town and used a number of names of real people etc. I set it in a year where there was a plat book available so I'd have that research.

But yes. LOVE Google Earth. Have used it many times to find stuff for my contemps :).

I would love to be entered!!

Jeanne T said...

Jennifer, I love how you used a real city but fictionalized a buidling to work as part of your story. I kind of have done that with a rock climbing place my hero goes to sometimes. But my story is set in the city where I grew up.

I love all you shared today, and the names of hte entrees on the menu at the Road Kill Cafe--talk about adding flavor and authenticity to the story. Love it!

Audra Harders said...

Jennifer, welcome to Seekerville!

I love the method to your research. So true about the internet bringing your setting into your home. Of course I'd love to actually go visit the locations, but budget restraints are really loving google earth as an alternative. LOL!

Thanks for joining us today!

Julie Lessman said...

JENN!!! WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, my friend, SOOOOOO good to have you here!!

LOVE this blog, girl, and laughed out loud at the menu item, "The Chicken that Almost Crossed the Road." At least it's not roadkill, right?? Or maybe it is ... ;)

I am not a HUGE lover of research, so most of mine is done on a wing and a prayer, which means that although I get the skeleton right for an actual locale or organization (i.e. like The Boston Children's Aid Society from A Hope Undaunted or The Boston Herald newsroom in A Passion Most Pure), I let my imagination run wild in creating settings pieced together with facts, yes, but fleshed out in my own mind. I worried about that in the beginning because historical readers are very picky about accurate settings and facts, and thought I would have to research for months to get it right, but not so. However, you were very wise to do so with Route 66. Besides, fact is stranger (and more fun) than fiction at times and if any locale/setting has fun and adventure attached to it, it's Route 66!!

And, WOW, you have really been busy with the books, my friend, and each sounds better than the next. LOVE the title of your upcoming series, "Charm and Deceit" -- sounds like a lot of fun, as does the Christmas book, so GOOD LUCK and HAPPY SALES, girl!!

Marianne said...

i take my coffee black, thanks. or barefoot, or i don't mix my drinks or whatever. i love the dog on the cover of this novel. i really want to know what she has got to do with it! Thanks for a great post...i know the feeling...i just read a book that takes place in Phoenix, where i have a winter home, and though i don't know the area of Scottsdale so well, it feels like home. Thanks for the chance to win!

marianneDOTwanhamATgmailDOTcom

www.reviewingnovelsonline.blogspot.ca

CatMom said...

Welcome Jennifer!! Enjoyed your post today sooo much and will add it to my Keeper File. Wow, I'd never thought of using YouTube to help with research, but that's a great idea (viewing vacation photos of various places)--Thanks! And please enter me in the drawing--your book sounds amazing, and I LOVE that cover. ~ And Ruthy...may I please have a donut and coffee? (I don't think donuts have calories if you say "please" LOL). Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

Melanie Dickerson said...

Good points, Jennifer!!! Good to see you here! :-)
I have some real places in a book series of mine that hasn't sold yet. I know that when it gets published, I will have an instant sales connection and an "in" for book signings and publicity in that area. It is a great marketing tool!

KC Frantzen and May the K9 Spy said...

Super great info Jennifer.

I try to do the same thing. It seems easier to use real places and then add a few imaginary things to the mix.

LOVE the variety of research available these days. Of course, nothing beats a trip to your location, especially if... It's someplace like Paris! ;D

Thank you for a good post today. I'd love to be in for the drawing! Thanks for the goodies this morning. YUM!

Jessica Nelson said...

I love Youtube for research. It's been super helpful.

Jan Drexler said...

Hi Jennifer,

I've chosen real locations for my historicals, mostly because I love research.

It also helps that for my books set in the 1930's, I have a great resource - my Dad lived in my setting (both place and time). If I have a question, he gets a phone call :)

For books set earlier than that, I do a lot of digging. I've found some great resources that give me details, and that's the fun part.

Looking forward to reading your book!

Jennifer AlLee said...

Good morning, y'all! Just coming to life on the West Coast ;)

Isn't research fun? Melissa has a great idea of using a real town but giving it a fictional name. That's kind of the best of both worlds.

And now, I have to run out for a photo shoot... Oh, the glamorous life of an author! LOL Not so glamorous, really. I just need to have some new headshots done. Am grabbing a danish for the road. Leave some snacks for when I get back!

karenk said...

good morning, seekers.

thanks, jennifer, for the opportunity to read your latest novel :)

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Elaine Clampitt said...

Great post, Jennifer. I don't mind research but mostly think of it in terms of character's careers or for a medical issue, etc. This gives me something to ponder for the pros and cons of using a real town versus fictitious. My current WIP is set where I live with some fictional places thrown in.

I would love to read your latest novel.

emcwrites at gmail dot com

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Jennifer! Your book intrigues me. I love quilts and have wanted to drive Rt. 66.

You give excellent reasons for setting a novel in a real town. I write historicals and find research of real towns doable but definitely more daunting. Any tips for getting the details right over a hundred years later?

Janet

Mary Connealy said...

I wanted so badly to set a book in Yellowstone. (Wrangler in Petticoats) I did a ton of research and bought a bunch of books and really had the idea all set, until I realized that in the era I was pinned into writing, because it was part of a series already in print there was just no way I could do what I needed to do. I needed a wilderness. I needed my hero to save my heroine and nurse her back to health and have no recourse to get help for her.
Guess what? In the year I needed the book to be in remote Yellowstone??? There was already a HOTEL THERE.
Yellowstone was finally, officially 'discovered' one year and the NEXT SPRING, the moment the mountain passes opened, tourism started. A train track when down to the entrance and a hotel went up on a likely spot just past the entrance.
And it was BUSY.

Mary Connealy said...

I remember once telling Janet Dean to research the birth of a calf on youtube.

I think she's traumatized. But with careful attention to taking her meds, she's been able to live a 'normal' life.

Sorry about that, Janet honey.

Myra Johnson said...

Jen, welcome to Seekerville! I totally agree--it's fun to read a book or watch a movie and recognize a real place I've actually visited.

And totally annoying when the author or filmmaker got an important detail completely wrong!

I'm currently at work on a historical series set in a real location nearly 100 years ago--a place where we've vacationed often in the last 25 years--and it's been a challenge to determine which buildings and businesses were in existence back then and which weren't. Even more confusing, some were there but in different locations. Thank goodness for the kind and helpful people at the historical society!

pol said...

Ruth, thanks for introducing Jennifer to us -wow her books sound so interesting and I am sure I will add her to my authors list. I like when authors take a fact and write fiction around it making the history of it so interesting, Eugenia Price did this in her books and I read almost every one she wrote-another new author doing this is Jody Hedlund and I have read her books.
thanks for sharing today.
Paula O(kyflo130@yahoo.com)

Al said...

Oh I love reading a book and knowing the area that the author sets it in. Especially if it has anything to do with Lancaster County PA. Especially Rt. 340 and all around that area. It makes you feel warm and cozy all over. Please enter me in the drawing for your book it sounds fabulous.

Alecia Ernst

Vince said...

Hi Jennifer:

As I reader I much prefer real locations which I have lived in. Tina Radcliffe did a great job with Tulsa. She even included the famous bookstore, Steve’s, where she actually had a book signing. That was like nature imitating art.

I also very much liked Janet Tronstad’s “Sisterhood of the Dropped Stitches” quartet. This book makes very good use of the real Pasadena. I lived in Pasadena and it was fun the travel around the city again. BTW: Janet lives in Pasadena not far from where I lived.

My wife belongs to one of the many Route 66 organizations. We tour parts of 66 every now and then. On our last trip out west we had to detour to see the “Wigwam Village”. The manager opened one unit so we could see inside. It was well worth the detour. Also, it was not expensive.

We live near the Blue Whale. Did ‘Blue’ make it into your “Mother Road” book?

I just loved Dorothy Garlock’s Route 66 series of three books, “Mother Road”. “Hope's Highway”, and “Song of the Road”. These take place in the depression ‘30’s. When does your “Mother Road” book take place? It does not say on Amazon.

Vince

P.S.Please enter me for your book if I can get a large print or Kindle version.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer your book sounds great. I love treasure hunt stories.

I always go for the fiction town when I'm writing. I think that comes from fear of getting it wrong. I do, however, know about the general it's set and try to be true.

Please put me in for the drawing.
Connie Queen

Jennifer AlLee said...

Cara G, I haven't heard back from any places yet that they've had more tourism because of being featured in one of my books, but that would be SO cool! I have had people tell me they want to visit the places they've read about, so it could happen.

Deb, in The Mother Road, I had an Author Notes section where I let the reader know that there was only one town in the entire book that I made up. That was Beaumont, IL, the hometown of the heroine. I made that one up because I needed creative lattitude.

Christina said...

What a great premise! Sounds like it was fun to write and I bet it's more fun to read.

Melissa, I do the same thing!! I've found that some places are really difficult to research. I often try to rely on journal entries for descriptions, but even those vary. One town I based my story off of just celebrated their 150th, placing their founding in 1862, well there wasn't much to the actual town, a coal miner's shack, as late as 1868. One town I'm using for another series was founded on Christmas Day. When they mapped it out all the streets were named for their wives back east. I love those little details. I have two stories from this setting nearly complete.

I do like the familiarity of fact. I watched an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. The host visited that cafe. It does make the reader feel more apart of the story.

Jennifer AlLee said...

Sandra, my last name has French roots, which is why it looks so... interesting. The original pronunciation was ah-LAY, but can you imagine getting anyone to say it that way now? Today, we pronounce it ah-LEE, like the boxer (Mohammad Ali). And the correct spelling is with two "el"s... the first lowercase, the second uppercase. There's no "eye" in AlLee :)

Jennifer AlLee said...

DebH, happy upcoming birthday to you! Smart gal, telling hubby what you to give you. It makes life so much easier for everyone!

Jennifer AlLee said...

Rose, writing for multiple publishers just kind of happened. Obviously, I pitched ideas to each of these publishers, but with Whitaker House, I was contacted about the series about 2 years after the original pitch. With Barbour, the other authors in the anthology are friends of mine, and they asked if I'd like to be involved. So far, I'm loving working with each of the publishers and have had no conflict of interest. It helps that I'm writing in a different genre for each. For Abingdon, I write contemporary Women's Fiction and Romance. For Whitaker House, it's Historical Romance. And for Barbour, it's a contemporary novella. I consider it a big blessing to be able to do all that.

Jennifer AlLee said...

Hey Vince, The Blue Swallow made it into The Mother Road, but sorry that the Blue Whale didn't. There's such a wealth of cool stuff, if I'd used it all, the book would have been 1000 pages long! The time period is contemporary, so the heroine and her sister are seeing things just as any of us would today.

Jennifer AlLee said...

Mary, how could you tell poor Janet to watch a calf birthing? EWWWWW! In my very first book (which is OOP now) I had a foal birth. It was enough to read up on it. I really wasn't interested in seeing it!

Jennifer AlLee said...

For those of you writing historicals, I now share your pain. Working on the historical series is fun, but my goodness, I spend a lot of time worrying about getting the details right. Thank God Lisa is a genius at that part!

Julie Steele said...

Jennifer, the post is so true. I was born in DC and decided to set my book there, WWII. Not only are the major monuments known to folks who have never been there but then there is the joy of discovering the hidden secrets of a place.

Peace, Julie

Anonymous said...

I gotta read the quilt book! :-) and Mary I'd have had no idea if a hotel existed then or not! I've read some set in my area though and could tell if it sounded right.
Susanna

Vince said...

Hi Mary:

My mother was driving us kids (ages: 7, 10, 15) home from school when she suddenly stopped the car on a dirt country road and had us kids get out of the car and look into the cow pasture. There with all the other cows standing around her was a mother giving birth to a calf. We kids all thought it was amazing and beautiful. Our only question was “where’s the farmer?” I remember all the cows were Black Angus. This was New Jersey and I don’t think we had any ranchers. We had farmers who also had cattle. Also, we were about thirty yards away.

Vince

P.S. And one of the reasons Yellowstone developed so quickly was because artists, like your hero, were publicizing the location with their works.

Janet Dean said...

Mary, the dizziness has passed. The meds really helped. Thanks for shaing. :-) YouTube is a great resource as Jennifer pointed out.

Janet

Jeanne T said...

Oh, I was just thinking about research. This isn't about a locale, but it is about learning. I discovered how to lay wooden flooring the basics of rock climbing and to do the salsa (well, kind of) on you tube. There are so many different things to learn on that site. :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Jennifer!!! Welcome back to Seekerville. It was lovely to see you at ACFW.

Lovely cover! I can't wait to read it.

Mary Connealy said...

Vince, I grew up on a dairy farm and my own husband is a cattleman. I've seen many, many calves born.

The thrill is gone.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I've only seen a handful of calves born, and I'm still thrilled.

And puppies... Oh when those puppies are birthing, it's a long night of making sure everything goes right! Mostly it does...

Every now and again, we say goodbye too soon.

#sad

Speaking of births, we found a kitten in a hollow tree. Maybe three weeks old... a tiny orange male. The neighbors saw it/heard it and alerted us. Our cats weren't expecting, so no idea where this "Little Man" came from but he's snug with our mama kitty who has babies just a smidge older than he is.

A kitten in a tree.

This will most assuredly make it in a book.

Cindy W. said...

Hi again Jennifer. I was on early this morning and forgot to say I would love to be entered in your giveaway! Thank you for your generosity. :)

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

Carol Moncado said...

Oh Ruthy! I love that cat story! I can't wait to read it ;).

I did see some video today of a Great Dane and her best friend.

A deer.

Love.

Jes said...

Long Gone Fawn and The Chicken that Almost Crossed the Road!! LOL! :) I agree - that is fun having your characters dine on actual food items from The Road Kill Cafe. :) Makes me want to go there to try something off the menu out of sheer curiosity! A Wild Goose Chase Christmas sounds great!

Jes
jswaks at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Great post, Jennifer! I would love to read your book! Thanks for the chance!
Jackie S.

jackie.smith[at]dishmail[dot]net

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Jennifer,
Loved your post...great to think back to Route 66. Am I dating myself? Remember the old TV program by that name? Two guys in a Vet, wasn't it? (I watched as an infant, of course.)

How fun to get all the details right. Your story sounds delightful. Love The Chicken that Almost Crossed the Road. Too fun and so perfect for your story.

Thanks for being with us today!

MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA said...

Jennifer,

I loved your post, specially the part about the built-in emotional connection found in real settings. So, so true!

MaryAnn Diorio
A CHRISTMAS HOMECOMING
Harbourlight Books-December 2012

CatMom said...

Can't resist chiming in one more time today, LOL---am laughing at Debby G's comment about the old Route 66 show! I remember that, and now have the theme song playing in my head---of course, like Debby, I too was only an infant then. Isn't it amazing what we remember from our infanthood, Debby?! ~ And Ruthy's orange kitten story gave me tears....Oh, if you lived near me I'd love to adopt that little guy, bless his heart. But I'm sure you all are giving him a wonderful home! Hugs, Patti Jo

Pepper said...

Jennifer,
Wonderful post and great reminders of the fun of using real places.
And I absolutely LOVE the premise of your Christmas book. Oh how FUN!

Nancy C said...

Oh Jennifer, totally agree about YouTube. I write historicals, so viewing reenactor videos is super. And then there are all those 'how to' lessons like harnessing a horse to a buggy. My other great resource is period newspapers. Unfortunately, those trigger more story ideas than I could ever write :-)

Thanks for the post. Your book sounds like the perfect gift for a quilter friend of mine.

Nancy C

Jamie Adams said...

Great post Jennifer! I know a local author that uses our little town in her books. It makes them all that more real when I read them.

Natalie Monk said...

Hi Jennifer! Great tips on setting!!! I love the books you can read and say, "I've been there!" My best friend, mom, sis, and I recently took a "girlfriend getaway" trip to Natchez simply because we'd read Gilbert Morris' "River Queen" and wanted to see Natchez Under the Hill ourselves.

I write historical fiction, so I'm echoing Melissa on the research. lol. Was going to use my town, but the courthouse burned destroying all records of facts during my story's timeline, so I'm looking for another similar town to model after.



Mary Preston said...

I always appreciate the details that have been researched for accuracy in beloved places.

marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Edwina said...

jennifer,
Books based on real locations are my favorites to read! Thanks for a great post.
Edwina(at)edwinacowgill(dot)com

shelia hall said...

if you can identify with your town in the book it makes it more enjoyable!

Deborah Dunson said...

I would love to read your book.

Jeri Hoag said...

Jennifer, You have answered a big question for me, so Thank You! I am a lurker on Seekerville, so I rarely leave comments, but this helped so much with my own writing. I created a town in my book next I'm doing a mix bag. Your book sounds great as well hopefully I win if not I will get it soon.

Thanks
Jeri, Buena Park, CA

Jeri Hoag said...

Jennifer, You have answered a big question for me, so Thank You! I am a lurker on Seekerville, so I rarely leave comments, but this helped so much with my own writing. I created a town in my book next I'm doing a mix bag. Your book sounds great as well hopefully I win if not I will get it soon.

Thanks
Jeri, Buena Park, CA

Jennifer AlLee said...

Jeri, I'm so glad I could be of help. Good luck with your book!

Natalie, if the courthouse in your town burned down and all the records are gone, then they're gone for everyone, not just you. That kind of opens you up for interpretation. Based on what you know of the town from the records that DO exist, what can you extrapolate? Are there any museums in town, historians, "Silver Citizens" who can share the oral history with you? You still may be able to use the town, it just might take a bit more digging. Thumbs up to you!

Anonymous said...

I would love to win a copy of the book, "A Wild Goose Chase Christmas" by Jennifer AlLee.
The coffee and donuts sound good too. It's a pity they are only virtual because nothing goes better with a good book than coffee and donuts.
Thanks for entering me in the contest.
Janet Estridge
von1janet@gmail.com

C.E. Hart said...

I love the idea of using a real town instead of a fictional one. It makes sense! I really enjoy reading stories that take place in real-life places I've visited. :)

The crazy quilt story sounds like an intriguing read! :)

nicnac63 AT hotmail DOT com