Monday, April 6, 2015

Writers never have to weep because there are no worlds left to conquer

When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer. 
Alexander the Great had conquered the whole known world. Writers never have to weep because we invents worlds for our books and  as soon as we conquer them, we just start inventing new ones.

Mary Connealy
We talk about world building and often we think this is about fantasy fiction.

Like Stephanie Meyers making her vampires glitter. She’s ignoring the ‘rules’ of vampires and building her own. The only real rule for striking out on your own like this is, yes you can make your own rules, but then you have to tell your readers those rules and you have to obey them in the rest of the book.

It’s like playing pitch with someone who doesn’t know the game. You teach them the three of trump is worth three points but you can’t wait until the three of off-trump is played and say, “Oh yeah, it’s worth three points too.”

Make your rules, invent your world, then live in it!

Now Twilight is a case of a fantasy world with weird rules that no one understands--so you have to explain yourself.

But for me, an author of historical fiction, I have to ‘invent’ my world too.

My current series, Wild at Heart, is set in a sort of difficult world. Here is why. I set it ultimately, near Jackson, Wyoming. My setting and plot locked in a date. About a year after the Civil War is over. I can’t make it substantially later or earlier in history.

Coming June 1
The trouble with that is, Wyoming Territory didn’t exist until 1868…three years after the war was over.

Here's a brief explanation of Wyoming history:
Portions of the territory where my characters lived, which eventually fell under Wyoming's jurisdiction were at various points associated with: Washington Territory, Oregon Territory, Idaho Territory, Dakota Territory, Nebraska Territory, and Utah Territory, and had previously belonged to the independent states of Great Britain, France, Spain, Mexico, and Texas.

Add to that, the dates were all really vague. When exactly did Nebraska Territory recede and Dakota Territory spring up?

It was really exhausting trying to figure it out. All of this, you understand, doesn’t change the land upon which my characters stood. The Rocky Mountains dominated  and remained the same and a bunch of jump-y territorial borders didn’t change one thing about it, except for getting it right.

So I created my world about a place, a land formation, and I just didn’t say where it was. I in effect, slipped past that small detail because it didn’t matter. But I still have to let people know where in the world my book is. I have to create my world.
With This Kiss Historical
With This Kiss Contemporary
Because in a case like this it’s not so much about getting it right, as it is in drawing the reader in, letting them enter my world, be part of it. I want my readers to climb into my books and come along for the ride and to do that, they have to know where they are, see the whip of the aspen trees as they gallop along. I have to create my world.

The great thing about it is, I never have to weep because there are always plenty of world left to conquer.

Tell me about the world you’re conquering right now in your book. If you’ve been writing hard along with Speedbo you may be at a revision stage now that April is here. And that’s a great time to focus on creating your world so it comes to life.
Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for a copy of each of the two Seeker Novella’s ‘With this Kiss Historical Collection’ and With this Kiss Contemporary Collection.


Marianne Barkman said...

The book I just finished reading took place in North Sudan... With an American family and Sudanese Christians, contemporary. Does that count to get my name in for the drawing of the WITH THIS KISS books?
Thanks, Mary...I love your novels, cause they do draw me in no matter which territory they take place in.

Mary Connealy said...

It absolutely counts, Marianne. :)

Jan Drexler said...

The world I'm conquering right now is frontier Pennsylvania and Ohio in the 1840's.

The problem is that the last time I was near these places (when my now 21-year-old son was still in diapers), I had no thought of ever writing historical Amish fiction. Or historical fiction. Or fiction.

So, busy with one in diapers, one recently toilet trained and two older children who were into everything, I really didn't pay much attention to the setting of a future book.

But still, I'm writing that book now. Probing my memory for details about the setting just isn't working, so I'm taking a research trip next month.

Yes, be jealous. Amish country in the spring :)

And I love your setting. When I read "Tried and True," I had guessed Idaho. I wasn't too far off! Looking forward to the next Wild at Heart book!

Vince said...

Hi Mary:

Alexander wept but it was because his troops were fed up with conquering the world and refused to continue the campaign in India because after years of fighting they wanted to go home and enjoy some of the spoils of war while they were still alive. At the rate Alexander's Greeks were being killed, even as they won each battle, none would be left alive for the invasion of China. Plutarch created his own world for Alexander. He probably would have set your story in California. I prefer your way of doing things.

This is just to emphasize your advice to get it right! I can't wait to read your Andersonville book, "Closer than Brothers" as a complete book in one setting.


P.S. No drawing for me. I've already ordered both books. Also I really like your new book cover. It's my favorite of the series.

Cindy W. said...

The book I just finished reading took place in Houston, it was a contemporary suspense. My current WIP is set in Texas and is also a contemporary.

I would love to be entered in your giveaway. Thank you for the opportunity.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I agree with Vince, Mary, your new cover ROCKS IT TOTALLY! I love her expression! It's so perfect.

I'm revising in central Washington state and trying to get to know a spot I haven't seen is tough... but thank heavens for Internet, rainfall charts, pictures, etc.

After a busy Speedbo month, I'm looking forward to an equally busy revisions... and then writing month! Which is exactly how March went, and it turned out fine so I'm jumping in!

Hope everyone had a nice, God-filled Easter!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Hey, I brought coffee!!!! And you've got a selection of creamers here, my current favorite (when I don't have a cold and things taste good) is Southern Butter Pecan.... :)

Raisin' m' mug to youse!

Rhonda Starnes said...

Good morning, Mary. Thanks for the post.

My last book was set in a city I've never visited, so I spent much time on the Internet learning about the setting I'd chosen. I knew I'd make up restaurants, buildings and some street names, but I wanted the important landmarks to be the same. It became very stressful. Then I started worrying that people familiar with the city might be disappointed when they read my book (if it sells), so this time, I've made up my own little country town for a setting. And even though the setting is located close to familiar places with very distinct landmarks, I'm a lot less stressed about this story.

Making up new worlds is fun!

Barbara Scott said...

Mary, I finished reading Wildflower Bride last night. I'm not sure how I missed it since I read all the others in the Montana Marriages series, but there you go.

Anyway, your post about creating your own world came at just the right time. I'm 75,000 words in to my novel set in 1875 Deer Lodge, MT. At first I thought I could make my heroine arrive on a train from the east, but the railroad wasn't built that far yet. Drat.

For other pesky details, I call on my friend Gwen Ellis who was born and raised there. Here's a typical question I asked in excercise class on Friday: So, are there trees along the Clark Fork River where somebody could hide to ambush my hero? Turns out there's a lot of willows and cottonwoods growing there. Who knew they grew that far north?

She also knew that the coldest temperature ever recorded in Montana (or the lower 48 states) was 70 below in Rogers Pass north of Helena in January of 1954. Hmm. A little late for my story, but I figured it could get at least 60 or 65 below in 1875...and she remembers many winters when it was 50 below in Deer Lodge. You just can't find those details on the Internet.

Now I'm planning a trip to Deer Lodge in May after the snow melts, and Gwen is reading my manuscript to make sure I haven't butchered Montana history OR it's flora and fauna. That's a true friend.

P.S. I've already pre-ordered the historical collection.

Rose said...

Hmm...I learned my lesson on using REAL towns and events in my settings in my latest contemporary. My WIP (contemporary) is set on a fictional ranch in western South Dakota.

Jackie said...

I'm writing contemporary, but I created a fictional town set in the middle of real cities. So my work is not near as hard as yours. Thanks for sharing, Mary.

Cara Lynn James said...

My latest is set in rural Litchfield County, Connecticut, an area with beautiful lakes and countryside. We used to camp there growing up. I have great memories of that part of the state.

I'm doing some research, but not too much.

Connie Queen said...

Good morning Mary.

My current book is part of a series set in Buzzard's Roost, Texas in the 1870's. The part I'm working on now though starts on the Kansas plain near Rimrock before traveling to Texas. Both towns are fictitious.

Buzzard's Roost is a small west Texas town that's on-the-way-to-nowhere so anyone who visits is quickly under scrutiny.

kaybee said...

Good morning Mary and all,
I have two vastly different series that I'm working on. One takes place ON the Oregon Trail and in a small settlement in the Oregon Country. I learned the hard way. (I learn everything the hard way.) I submitted a MS to a contest and had written that the setting was "Oregon, 1846." I knew it was technically the Oregon Country and that it wasn't a state yet, but the judge didn't know that I knew and called me out on it and it affected my score, so I'm really specific now. The Trail landmarks are, well, the trail landmarks so I try my best to be accurate. In the village one I created my own hamlet but oriented it in a "real" part of the Oregon Country.
My other series takes place in New York City just after the First World War, and there I rely heavily on research and maps because New York is, well, New York. My two stories, one done and one a WIP, take place in Hell's Kitchen and The Bowery respectively. The second one also uses "real" people including Father Francis Duffy and Gangster Frankie Yale, so I'm having to dig just a little deeper.
The best example of creating a world in Christian fiction, for me, is still the Thoenes' Zion Chronicles and Zion Covenant series. I felt like I WAS in Prague, Jerusalem's Old City or wherever, right down to the chinking in the cobblestones or the mist coming off the river. But that's just me.
Thank you Mary for a good post, we all need to be reminded of this.

Tracey Hagwood said...

As a reader and beneficiary of all the creating that goes into fictitious settings or research into the real ones, I can honestly say it's the story itself that wins me over.
I'm currently reading a book for review about Tiffany girls and the glass they created. One review already posted says her dress is wrong, what she is making is wrong, etc. I call this "majoring on the minors".

I appreciate writers efforts to get settings right, but agree with you, writers creating their own worlds are what it's all about.


Thanks to all the writers who are out there creating new experiences for readers. We can live a thousand lives through your work!

Wilani Wahl said...

The book I am almost finished with is a contemporary set in the mountains of North Carolina. The book I started last week is also contemporary but suspense and it takes place in several places because the character is on the run for her life.

Missy Tippens said...

I do a lot of world building in my second draft. And even still do more after critique (when my cp finds all the places I've forgotten to set the scene!). :)

Mary, I think you have a great idea to set it and not state exactly where it is.

Myra Johnson said...

Love your post, Mary! And your cover, too! I already had a mental picture your heroine from the first book in the series, and this gal comes close! (I was picturing Zoe McLellan from NCIS: New Orleans.)

The world I'm writing about right now is Depression-era Arkansas. And sometimes it's pretty depressing! The town the characters call home is mostly fictional, but the surrounding towns and cities mentioned are all real, so I've had to do some research about businesses, streets, etc., that would have been in existence at that time.

It also helps that we've traveled the highway that goes right past this part of Arkansas, so I have a sense of the landscape--mostly a lot of farmland. But trying to picture it during the worst drought in Arkansas history? That's a little harder! Books and Internet sites have really come in handy!

Becky Dempsey said...

I didn't mention exactly where my story takes place, just that the leaves change color in the Fall and there is snow around Thanksgiving and on...

Julie Lessman said...

Gosh, Mary, I kinda wish you'd written this blog BEFORE I embarked on my latest project as I have literally spent the last week researching facts and dates ad nauseum. AND doing exactly what you told us not to do -- to tie our hands too tightly to an existing city/time. So now I'm doing a little weeping of my own because of time lost.

But I do feel like I gain something -- no matter how small -- in sticking with the facts somewhat, especially since those facts are so interesting to me due to my fascination with Virginia City, NV in late 1800s, setting of one of my FAVORITE TV shows ever, Bonanza.

Although The Ponderosa was my inspiration, I was fascinated by early Reno, which was originally Fuller's Crossing, then Lake's Crossing after the Civil War. So I did my darnedest to shape my plot around key dates like the Comstock Lode and completion of the transcontinental railroad, but it ended up being harder than I thought. So now I am firmly settled on Virginia City which, surprisingly, was proclaimed the most important settlement between Denver and San Francisco in its heydey.

Anyway, the reason the dates were so hard for me to fit was I planned to begin the saga with a novella that happens 20 years prior than my proposed series, so I had some fancy footwork to do in laying the groundwork as far as dates and railroad/mining highlights, so now I'm ready to roll and give Ruthy a thumbs-up on that summer novella! :)


Vince said...

Hi Mary:

If you don't tell the reader the location but you do give other real locations, then you might drive your readers crazy. I spent a lot of time trying to locate the setting for Myra's "One Imperfect Christmas" by triangulating the times it took for her hero to drive to different locations in Oklahoma. After all that work, time I could have been reading, it turns out that I was wrong anyway!

If you are going to claim your right not to testify, then you should not tell some of the facts. : )


Mary Connealy said...

Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, the answer to all of that Jan is, YES, this is really a no man's land. Which is why my heroines thought they could get away with disguising themselves as men.


Mary Connealy said...

Hey there, Vince, I knew I could trust you with a Plutarch quote. I should have consulted you before I used it. LOL

Way to go Wise Friend.

And thank you for ordering our books. God bless you.

Wilani Wahl said...

Julie, I lived for 6 years in Nevada about 45 minutes from Virginia City. That would be a wonderful setting for a book.

Mary Connealy said...

Cindy W, a setting in a well known city can work because there's so much people already know, you don't have to describe the whole place.

The same goes to some extent with any setting outside fantasy.

I mean I can say 'he drew his Colt revolver' and everyone knows what that means right?

I don't have to explain why my characters glitter in the sunlight.

Mary Connealy said...

Rhonda, I know just what you mean! I tried to set a book in Austin, Texas once. I can't even remember what the book was. And it was so HARD!

I finally quit! moved the book somewhere fictional.

Mary Connealy said...

Barbara I have had to struggle with train travel in so many books! Of course you can read every detail about the Golden Spike and the Transcontinental Railroad but if you get into the weeds, was there a train HERE at THIS TIME. It's all really hard to track down.

What I've found is that there were an amazing number of what you might call Farm to Market railroads. Short stretches of railroad going from one specific place to another. maybe of them privately owned. Built by a small group of wealthy men.

So if you fictionalize your town and it's a bit after The Transcontinental Railroad, you can fictionalize a train, too.

Mary Connealy said...

Rose! Good for you!

Rose and I are both speakers at a Wordsowers Writer's Conference in Omaha on April 25th.

Mary Connealy said...

Jackie, you said this: a fictional town set in the middle of real cities.

You mean like a small neighborhood in a big city? That's such a cool idea.

I very often set my towns near real towns, so the cowboys can ride off to Fort Worth or something.

I like the town set in the middle of real cities idea though. You can make up your own businesses and streets and everything while being somewhere easily set in a place that's familiar.

Mary Connealy said...

Cara that sounds perfect, to find a spot like that you're so familiar with.

I wish I was familiar with anything but rural Nebraska!!!!!

Mary Connealy said...

I watched Last Stand at Saber River the other night on TV and it was filmed in New Mexico.

I really liked it because my current series is set in New Mexico so I watched it closely.

Of course New Mexico is HUGE! And exactly where in New Mexico it was filmed is pretty vague.


Mary Connealy said...

Connie! Buzzard's Roost?
I love that!

I need to try harder to name stuff.

Mary Connealy said...

kaybee wow, two so so so different settings!

Good for you!

Tackle all those challenges.

I loved Francine River's Mark of the Lion Trilogy set in ancient Rome shortly after Jesus' time on Earth. She made that setting come to life!

Mary Connealy said...

Tracey, That is such a cool thought. We can live a thousand lives through works of fiction. I like it!

Mary Connealy said...

Wilani, I've been reading Nevada Barr's series on Anna Pidgeon. Anna is a National Park Ranger and she moves around to different parks as she works her way up the career ladder and each story takes place in a different National Park. Some obscure, some really famous. And of course, intrepid Anna finds a dead body and the story is OFF!
Yosemite, Rocky Mountain National Park, The Natchez Trace, Carlsbad Cavern, the Statue of Liberty...all national parks.
But the settings are fun and I think Barr does it really well.

Mary Connealy said...

Vince I do this too in some books, try to locate them. Mentally if not in reality, to me that's why it's important to really set your story in a place, set it SOLIDLY.

I hope you don't have to get out rulers and protractors to find my Wild at Heart heroines. LOL

Mary Connealy said...

Becky I already know your book is in Maine.

If that's wrong then not sure what to do about it. LOL

Mary Connealy said...

JULIE!!! ARE YOU WRITING COWBOYS?????????????????????


Myra Johnson said...

VINCE said: "If you are going to claim your right not to testify, then you should not tell some of the facts. : )"

I'm sorry you wasted so much time trying to figure out my setting for One Imperfect Christmas, VINCE.


Jamie Adams said...

I love to create western worlds for my cowboys to rescue strong spirited damsels in distress. My time travel western is set somewhere in the Sierra foothills. Three modern day friends are exploring caves when an underground river plunges them into the 1880's. I don't think I've ever had so much fun writing a story before.

Sandy Smith said...

Great post, Mary. I love reading about the writing process of historical writers. In my book right now I am conquering the world of Nebraska during a tornado. I know you are familiar with that world.

Please enter me in the drawing.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Mary, Great thought to remind us our setting needs to be a "world". I'm in the world of surfing right now in my wip. This is extremely fun for me since I spent high school years on the beach in Southern California. so this is bringing me back to some fun times.

Vince said...

Hi Myra:

You wrote,

"I'm sorry you wasted so much time trying to figure out my setting for One Imperfect Christmas, VINCE.


By no means was it a waste of any of my time. It actually drew me into the story more deeply than if I was given the exact location. (It just introduce another stream of conflict. :))

I read fiction so I can lead other lives. While reality is a cybernetic system in that it is self-correcting (i.e., wrong theories don't work -- at least not for long), fiction is not self-correcting. That's why it is so important to get fiction right.

Reality can be stranger than fiction, but fiction can't.

Thus the need to follow rules as Mary pointed out.

Anyway, I think everyone should read "One Imperfect Christmas" and judge for themselves whether an unset setting is unsettling or if it is not? : )


P.S. I think Julie had a 'cowgirl' in her first San Francisco story. I think this was a case of author foreshadowing.

Mary Connealy said...

So Myra where IS One Imperfect Christmas set?

We all anxiously await the answer!!

Mary Connealy said...

JAMIE when you said an underground river plunges them into time travel I got a little giddy! I could feel myself being swept along.


Mary Connealy said...

YIKES, Sandy! Tornado! Yes I do know that world!

Serious stuff. Lots of action there!

Mary Connealy said...

Sandra can you surf?

I am so amazed by It's like I'm meeting a whole new YOU!

Great idea for a book.

Pam Hillman said...

For historicals, and I suppose for sci/fi and fantasy, setting the stage of what the area looks like, smells like, and sounds like, what kind of flora and fauna is there, is more critical than being specific about which state it's in (if it's in the continental US.

Yes, of course we need to be as accurate as we can be, but as Mary said, if the area has changed hands several times, it bogs the story down to try to explain that too much.

I'm from Mississippi. The gentle rolling hills of central MS have a whole different look and feel to the MS Delta, and it's even different the closer you get to the MS Gulf Coast.

The Mississippi territory changed hands between the French, British and Spaniards all during the 1700-1800s, but in the 1890s was called the Mississippi Territory.

In 1817, the MS Territory was admitted to the Union as a state. EXCEPT, the territory was divided, so part of what was known as the MS Territory isn't now part of the state of MS, so when in doubt, be very clear... or be vague. :)

Myra Johnson said...

Well, MARY and VINCE, it's just out there somewhere in the Midwest.

Vague enough for you?

Give me a break! It was my first published novel!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Yes, Mary I'm a surfer girl. Paying the price for all that sun now though. LOL. However I must qualify that I'm a chicken surfer. Never did big waves. Just the two-three foot waves. My brother and hubby did those. Love to body surf too. But it is unnerving when the fish nibble on the hairs of your legs. LOL

Mary Hicks said...

Mary, thanks for an interesting post. I don't like to research.
Research tries to take over once I get started on it—to heck with writing—I find to much interesting stuff and my writing time is gone for the day.

I recently had to research if some areas around the beaches of Connecticut have stickers—some do.

That's about as heavy as research gets for me. :-)

Melanie Dickerson said...

Hey, Mary! Great post! It's so true. You have to draw your reader in and give them the atmosphere and "rules" of the place and time you're setting them in, and yet, there's a lot you can leave out and still have them firmly established. In my Hagenheim series of fairy tale retellings, I never say "This is Germany." I do occasionally mention the Holy Roman Empire, which is what Germany was called in those days, and I use "Frau" instead of "Madame" or "Mistress" and a few other German words, and I say that my town of Hagenheim is "near the Harz Mountains" and I figure if the reader is really curious, they'll look it up. Otherwise, I want them to get a feel of the place by my descriptions, not by any pre-conceived ideas they have about Germany. This is the Middle Ages, after all, and it's a fun, exciting, colorful place and time and doesn't need modern country names to muddy the water.

That's how I like to think of it.

And I LOVE your take on the quote about there being no worlds left to conquer. I used to think I'd run out of fairy tales someday and would have to stop writing fairy tale retellings, but I don't really think I ever will! There are so many, and I can re-use them! Seriously, I think I could almost write an infinite number of stories based on Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella, just those two. So much fun!!! So many possibilities!!! So little time. Sigh.

Mary Connealy said...

Melanie you really pick a different and fascinating setting. No one else is doing what you do and setting the scene is so vital for you because you are in such an original place.

You do it very well.

Mary Connealy said...

Mary Hicks research can be addictive, no doubt. It can be a real time sink.

I look at research as a possible inspiration for future books.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Saguaro cactus. Hot summer. Cold summer. Scorpions. Welcome to my world.

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

HI Mary! I'm currently writing in a fictional town called Princeton, Nebraska, located south of Omaha. In fact, it's pretty similar to Omaha, but not quite as large. Just large enough to have a professional symphony orchestra. I'm still fleshing out the town itself, but I have a lot of local haunts, like the coffee shop, performance hall, the character's home, and a lovely estate on the edge of town where the murder victim lived.

Have a great day! See you on the 25th at Wordsowers!

Debby Giusti said...

I built Fort Rickman, a fictional Army post located in South Georgia, along with the nearby small town of Freemont. Then I added the nearby Amish community where I'm currently working.

Rickman is a combination of Fort Knox, KY, and Fort Benning, GA. Freemont is a composite of a lot of small towns in GA, and my Amish community mixes areas in Holmes County, Ohio, and Lancaster County, PA, near where I've lived in years past.

Nothing's wasted, right? I mix it all together to build my fictional world, a world that hopefully rings true to readers.

Debby Giusti said...

Jan, may I join you on your trip to Ohio and Pennsylvania?

Sounds wonderful!

Barbara Scott said...

Turns out, Mary, that Deer Lodge, MT, didn't become a railroad town until 1878, which is great for a sequel. I think Billy, one of Buck's hands, might just meet a pretty little gal steppin'
off that train. ;-)

Sarah Claucherty said...

I'm currently reading Zora Neale Hurston's autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road. Hurston describes the life of a totally Afro-American community of Eatonville, Florida, in the late 1800s-early 1900s. Hurston's account, combined with other research on her life and work, offers an intriguing story which ties in elements of anthropology, history, fiction, biography, and gender and race relations. You also have to judge how much to trust the narrator, as certain details of this autobio don't match historical accounts of Hurston's life or have appeared in her fiction!

Please enter my name in the drawing!

Kav said...

You know, I watched an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? last night -- the show that traces the genealogy of celebrities. I didn't know the actor who was featured last night but my goodness his history was rich. He had ancestors who settled the wild west (Oregon) -- and they made their trek there in their sixties!!!! And left diaries and everything. Fascinating stuff -- all I could think of was the number of incredible starting points for a novel -- including Indian wars and a gold rush. Then I immediately thought of you, Mary and thought how much fun (and mayhem) you would have with all that information.

Donna Reimel Robinson said...

I created Knotty Pine, a fictional town in eastern Pennsylvania, for a contemporary romance. It's near Stroudsburg, where my dad grew up, so I've visited that area often in my growing up years. Love the mountains and trees.

kaybee said...

Julie, I LOVED "Bonanza"! Especially the part when Ben would tell one of the boys that if they don't have integrity they don't have anything. Which happened just about every episode.
Kathy Bailey
Burning the map in New Hampshire

Lyndee H said...

Great post, Mary. And I'm loving our cow diaries on Facebook!

I am SO lucky to have been raised by a history freak (my Dad) who took me along on many archeological digs for Carnegie Mellon and various PA museums. Those experiences definitely help me hone in on the places I write about.

kaybee said...

I created Summer Pasture, Ohio, for my character Caroline in "Trail." Then got her out of there as fast as possible and on to the Oregon Trail.
I created Halls Mill, Oregon for my settlers to settle in. It's really just a muddy oasis in the woods. A thoroughly depressing place!

kaybee said...

The other series I get lost in is secular fiction by Sharyn McCrumb, her "Ballad" series about Appalachia. I've had dreams about being there...

Mary Connealy said...

Stephanie we should carve out a get together for the Iowa Nebraska ACFW group. I'm spending the night in Omaha on that Friday, maybe Friday for lunch. Not sure when Rose gets there.

Mary Connealy said...

Debby! You invented your own Military Base. Good for you.

Mary Connealy said...

Barbara, once you know so much about a place (fictional or not) it seems really natural to re-use it.

Mary Connealy said...

SARAH I found some first person essays written by a guard from Andersonville Prison during the Civil War.

And I found other writer's that in some ways clashed with his.

What that helped me realize that a lot of things are ONE MAN'S OPINION and that is legitimate.

Different people at the same event experienced it differently and that helps me give up worrying about some minor details because it is the truth as my characters saw it.

There's freedom in that.

Mary Connealy said...

Donna I love doing that. Setting a fictionalized town in the middle of a well known area with nearby towns that are real. It helps you set the book in time and place without being so buried in the details of what really happened that you're bound to either get it wrong or go on too long with the true names and descriptions trying to get it right.

Mary Connealy said...

Kathy Bailey, I loved that every time the 'boys' fell in love the woman was destined to a tragic death.

It was like being a Red Shirt on Star Trek.

There was no hope!

Mary Connealy said...

LYNDEE my dad loved history, too. It was always something we had in common. Or maybe it was something I learned from him, that might be more accurate.

Mary Connealy said...

KAYBEE you created a depressing place?

LOL well, if you needed one then....good for you!

Heidi Robbins said...

I agree that it's more important to create a world where you feel like you are there with the characters rather than be specifically accurate with landmarks. A general accuracy of staying true to the overall landscape is just fine. Especially when there are more fun things to focus on like the action and banter in your books :)

Put my name in the hat for the e-book collections! Looking forward to reading them!

Terri said...

I love fictional towns because I can never find a "real" town that has everything in it I want. creating a new rural Oklahoma town now.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I want to join Jan, too... Deb, call me, we'll all meet up!

I think there becomes a point of being too accurate.

Mary mentioned the letters and we all understand the subjectivity of one person's vantage point. But that doesn't invalidate it, so I often use snagged info as a launch point.

Have I mentioned that I have a cold and I'm very whiny?

If so, it's certainly worth mentioning again.

Your friend,


Becky Dempsey said...

Well, Mary, I don't know about Maine. Does Maine have apple orchards? I forgot to mention they go to an apple orchard and pick pumpkins

Tina Radcliffe said...

What I really want to do is construct a three D model of Paradise, Colorado. Like those little miniatures.

Like architects do. Wouldn't that be cool.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Jan Drexler was in 1840 when her son was in diapers??

Audra Harders said...

No weeping allowed! Alexander sounded a bit short sighted, don't you think?

Don't you just love this writer business? We can take the best of all worlds and settings, toss them in the blender and pour out a story world that suits our needs by naming it anything we want. LOL!

I love how you explained your process, Mary. I'm still puzzled over the sparkling vampires who defy vampirism as we all know it.

Isn't imagination a wonderful thing : )

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Excellent points, Mary.

Yes for sure. But can we weep as we create them? I have too many details flailing around as I create this world of May the K9 Spy.

Part of the issue for me is, the books are set in today's time, but with a K9 Spy as the main character, written in First Dog.

How many languages does she "speak" and how do I indicate such? How do I get readers into the head of a pawsome 10 lb Schnauzer as she tries her best to outwit evil masterminds bent upon destruction of this or that, and make it fun while doing so?

It's a challenge. In this 4th story, she is on a luxury mega-yacht in the Baltic Sea, observing a contest with twenty of the brightest 11-12 yr olds on the planet... And a cheetah... who showed up during Speedbo. Who knew? ;)

DEFINITELY in the revision stage - thank y'all for hosting Speedbo. I didn't quite meet my goal of getting the entire story on paper, but came very close. Decided to just go on with revisions since aforementioned details were driving me nuts. It all has to work and fit in together so... working through in earnest this month.

Hoping to pick up the pace though. 2 days per chapter is entirely too long!

Would love to be in the drawing.

Looking forward to your next books. They're so fun as we gallop along!

Mary Connealy said...

KC the terrific thing about May is that you're dealing with such a fun concept with your canine spy that you've got a huge amount of freedom to go nuts with reality. :)

DebH said...

coming late to Seekerville today. Travel day from In-laws after Easter. No internet for the weekend.

I love the "worlds" you create Mary. But I don't think I'm a good measuring person because I don't really check facts when reading historical. I just trust the author has taken the time to do his/her research to take me on a believable ride. Also, since I'm a fashion illiterate, mistakes on clothing doesn't bother me either. It doesn't mean I don't notice when things are a bit wonky in a story - I just don't really care if the STORY itself is a rip, roaring good read (i.e.. any Connealy or Seeker book).

My settings tend to be mountain or ocean, because that's all I know. I keep things vague enough so people can't nail me on "errors". Who made those nit-picky readers the "Authenticity Police" anyway?

Just a stray thought...

oh, before I forget: would love a shot at either spring collection set.

Ruthy: if it makes you feel any better... Guppy and I are both dealing with colds too. Noses are sore from blowing noses so much... Hoping to kick the cough and boogers fast. (boogers is a new favorite word for the five year old *heh*)

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Thx sooooo much!

It's what to INCLUDE that makes me weep. All these cool details I find in research (and yes - guilty. I totally get lost in research but then I majored in history and elementary ed. Which means, things I'm interested in are either dead or young...)

While revising this WIP there are so many really fascinating things about these mega yachts to mention (would adore a field trip, just so it could be a tad more authentic...) but I'm getting bogged in the details again. Still, May just ended up falling into a hidden hatch when the yacht hit a wave so - there is that.

Guess I'd better get back to it. Diving in to Ch 4 starting in 3... 2...

Enjoyed perusing the comments. What a great assortment of settings and stories heading our way soon!

Write on!

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

(Feel better Ruthy, DebH and Guppy!)

Deanne said...

I am currently reading a Julie Cantrell book, wow ! The story really has sucked me in, I must read more. It has me mesmorized ! It takes place in Depression-era Mississippi .

Walt Mussell said...

I ran across this problem in a huge way in my first Japan novel. My novel is set around Himeji Castle. Himeji Castle is a well-known place that's appeared in a number of movies familiar to westerners. Everyone the least bit familiar with it knows it's a WHITE, SIX-STORY structure.

At the time period of my book, Himeji Castle is only THREE STORIES.

It's also possibly, though this is unconfirmed, BLACK.

Patsy said...

I love reading about fictional towns. You can make them what you want and it's a cheap way to travel! Haha. Would love to be in the drawing please.

Dee LeRoye said...

I love to set my stories in South Dakota because its spaces are wide open and I know the country. The research comes in for the pre-1950's 'cause I don't remember much of what happened before that. I'd love to get my hands on more of your books. You write in my style (and my hubby's) Keep 'em comin',ya'll hear now? Thanks.

Olivia said...

Hi, Mary and all Monday writers! My question is: If you choose an actual locality with prominent features because the setting is important to the story, what steps do you take to make the setting vaguely familiar but not real?
Please send your wonderful collection to someone else...I was the lucky Speedbo blogger and won it already.

Natalie Monk said...

This is an awesome take on world-building, Mary! Thanks for sharing!

Edwina said...

Great post! And isn't it awesome that we can create the worlds we want to create - and get away with it!

Please put my name in the fishbowl for the drawing!