Thursday, June 4, 2015

Write Your Settings Like A Native

with guest blogger Leslie Ann Sartor.

So you want to set a book in say... Norway (or any other exotic locale)? But don’t have the time or money to visit?  Let’s take a trip…

Getting the details wrong on a location is one sure way to turn off a reader. But you really did want to set that book in (fill in the blank with the setting of your choice), and you know you’re not getting there anytime soon.


What is a writer to do….GOOGLE EARTH IT.


Yep, that is one fantastic tool.  It’s free, amazing and in technicolor.

Get it here: http://www.google.com/earth/download/ge/agree.html

So, say you want to set a book in Trondheim, Norway…easy peasy. Once you’ve opened Google Earth, in the search bar on the left-hand side, type in Trondheim Norway. The globe starts spinning and all of a sudden you’re flying above the city.


In the upper right corner is a slider for zooming in or out. (You can also use your mouse if it had a scroll wheel.) And one of the coolest things ever is zooming in and looking around. Oh, and you can grab the image and move it around if your “hand” is on it. Very handy.


I’ll wait while you play, but come back as there is so much more.


Let’s say you want to find a cathedral in Trondheim as I did for my story.  Go back to the left side of your screen and see where it says LAYERS?  Click on the triangle pointing down and you’ll reveal a menu.  Check mark PLACES and you’ll see a bunch of icons on your view.  The churches are triple steepled. I set a scene in the Nidaros Cemetery because I could see it, even from ground level…yep.


But I get ahead of myself.





See those push pins in the above picture? They mark important places I’ll need to go review over and over. So I used the YELLOW PUSH PIN ICON in the upper toolbar (that is horizontal to the screen). A pin shows up on your map, you can move it, and a dialogue box comes up so you can name it.


Now in that dialogue box is a cool feature that I used in researching my book, Stone of Heaven. It gives you the exact coordinates of where you place the pin. I needed that for my heroine to give to her pilot. I searched for the Yucatan near an airfield, found a spot that worked, near a road but not a town and voila! I had my imaginary village in the rainforest.


And I found another image that blew me away. This is of the Merida Airport.  Does this give you a sense of place? Yep, those are airplanes at the end of the runway, nearly covered by rainforest. I was looking for the direction of a runway for my book and found this.





Okay another amazing view you can get with Google Earth is the street view.


Remember the upper right-hand corner of the screen?  See the little orange person? (If it’s not showing, hover the hand there and it’ll come back on).  Click and drag it to where you might want a street view. WOW, did you see that?  Now you can turn 360 degrees and even follow its yellow path up and down a road by scrolling.  You can see almost anything you need.


When you’re done walking the streets and stopping for coffee at that awesome café you found, here’s a trick: see where it says Exit Street View…don’t click that yet. First click on the building next to the blue man. Then click on Exit Street View.  Somehow if you don’t you get a flattened image if you do those steps. Don’t know why, but this trick seems to work.





Google Earth helped me find things I never knew existed, like the Dora-1 sub base. I got amazing different angle images of it and it changed the plot of my latest book, Viking Gold.


I found the exact distance between points by using the ruler icon and knew my characters couldn’t walk that, so would need a taxi. I saw the Pirbrua Bridge and it took my breath away. I saw the poling houses on the Nidelva River. All of that plays a part in my book.


Then don't forget to save your places.


Here's ANOTHER TRICK I use to find facts and settings for a book.


Email. Sounds simple and it is.


I needed to know the diving conditions in the Trondheim fjord.  I used the internet to find dive shops in Trondheim, found one I liked and emailed them asking for some advice.  I made a great friend in Sven Gust, who has sent me images and even read over my dive scene.


I needed information on Nazi involvement in Norway, searched the internet and came across a site of Nazi ranks, equipment etc. I emailed the contact and now retired Colonel Michaël SES Svejgaard of the Royal Danish Air Force is a close friend.  He plotted how far a crippled 1940’s BV138 would fly. He found the right Nazi form for my SOS and sent me a picture of it. Invaluable.


I found a woman in England getting her PhD in Viking Metallurgy and History, and she sent me her dissertation on detecting alloys. The chief Trondheim archivist sent me photo’s of the archives in Trondheim.  I have 1940 images of Dora-1 sub base from another archivist…amazing. There are others who have helped and that’s only this book.


So my story changed and grew because I could see the city. Street view was invaluable. And I could alter how I saw the city by the filters I engaged on the left side menu bar. I got first-hand information by emailing. I found day and night charts, twilight charts and temperature/humidity charts on the internet. Favorite foods, wines and hotels.


I’ve still not been to Norway, and from what I’ve heard back from readers and my researcher, you’d never know I wasn’t there.


Questions? Ask them! I'd love to help you. What are your favorite methods for research? Share! We'd all love to learn.


I'm giving away a copy of my latest book Viking Gold to one lucky person who comments. I do apologize that there will be a delay in receiving it as it's not  available until July 7th.


Meanwhile, here is the link to Amazon. It'll also be on B&N, iTunes and KOBO


Abigail Carswell is an adventure junkie, willing to take risks and thwart death to find the unfindable. But her need for the rush of the hunt is wearing thin on those who love her. Specifically her fiancé, Hermann Weiss, who loves the hunt as well, but as an engineer, does his best to not get into situations he can't engineer himself out of. 
On this hunt for Viking Gold in the deep fjords and ancient city of Trondheim, Norway, Abby and Hermann have agreed to take precautions, but in reality those restrictions chafe Abby. Add in Sigurd Thorsen who may not be whom he appears to be and Magnus Jones who definitely isn't who he thinks he is, add in ancient gold, betrayal, with a touch of mythology and you have Viking Gold. Live The Adventure ~ Love The Romance





Leslie Ann Sartor (aka L.A.Sartor) began telling stories around the age of 4 when her mother, at Leslie’s insistence, wrote them down and Leslie illustrated them.  As an adult she writes suspense and action adventure novels with a dash of romance, and screenplays—she's had a contracted adaptation!  She lives in Colorado with her husband whom she met on a blind date.  Leslie loves to travel and thinks life is an adventure and we should embrace the journey.  She has a blog and a mailing list.


81 comments:

Cindy Regnier said...

Thank you Leslie. I knew about Google earth but I didn't know all that! Not only can I set my book in that spot I've never visited, but I can also visit the setting of the book I'm reading. How cool is that? Thank you for visiting Seekerville (I don't suppose cyber locations are visible on Google earth?)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome back to Seekerville, Leslie.I agree with Cindy Regnier, HOW COOL IS THAT? I never would have thought of Google Earth.You are a genius, girl!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Favorite methods for research? I watch you tube videos,Google articles and often sit in and lurk on forums, especially for medical topics.

If my book is say a romantic comedy about a single father with six kids, I Google movies on the topic and saturate myself with the theme.

Mary Preston said...

Google Earth is a lot of fun.

Keli Gwyn said...

I set my stories in California's Gold Country where I live, so research involves visiting the locations themselves and the library--the public one and the rather impressive one I now have in my office, filled with books on the area.

My husband introduced me to Google Earth when our daughter got a job in France two years ago. Adriana and I stayed up into the wee hours one night driving around the small town she was going to be living in. She got a great idea what the place looked like. When we visited her that Christmas, I couldn't figure out why everything felt so familiar since I'd never been to France before. Once my jet leg lessened it hit me that I'd seen the places before, thanks to Google Earth.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I've used Google Earth for various reasons.

Spying on neighbors, etc. :)

KIDDING! With a lot of my books set close by, this hasn't been a problem, but my Washington State series is a country away, NY to WA is a hike! Not with Google Earth!

But my recent trip to Alaska via my nice children put me in Washington State and I added these facts to my books:

There is a great cafe and bakery in Cle Elum famous for their maple bars

Sagebrush and Scotch broom are everywhere, two brushy weeds brought in by immigrants, and I wouldn't have known they existed without seeing them. That adds current realism to my story.

Leslie, yes, yes, yes!!! Talking to folks who live there, who aren't afraid to chat and give advice or answer questions in huge! Dave and I crisscrossed roads in Kittitas County because I wanted to make sure my setting and set-up of the town was plausible. I was blessed to do that, for certain! Excellent timing.

I love Google Earth. I love internet research. That's such a blessing now! Thanks so much for showing me how I can actually apply this to my historical novels!

Ruthy

Mary Hicks said...

Yep, Google Earth is fun. Thanks for sharing lots more than I'd thought of using it for.

My daughter's in Florida and I'm in Oklahoma, we zoom in on each other sometimes when we're on the phone—just for fun.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Tina, I do some of the same. I've got Netflix, so to see an actual ranch in motion I watched The Last American Cowboy and Heartland.... and now I've found "When Calls the Heart" for historicals in PNW.

There are so many modes of research available to us, it's amazing!

Glynna Kaye said...

Leslie -- This post is going to be a keeper, as I can definitely see making use of this in the future -- especially to get an "in person" view of things like terrain and type of trees and other vegetation. While I've used this just a little, I didn't know about the layers/places options so you can "drill down." Thank you!

Audra Harders said...

Good morning, Leslie! I've played around on Google Earth and thought to use it as a research tool when I was playing around with an idea for a book set in Russia. I never knew there were so many options though! By nature, I'm not a button pusher, so I know I miss out on a lot of functions by not being snoopy : ).

Enjoy your day here in Seekerville. I love the info!! Thanks!!!

Jackie said...

Hi Leslie,

I've heard about Google Earth, but I never thought I needed it. Thanks so much for opening my eyes. I'm downloading it now.

Have a great day!

Audra Harders said...

Keli, I never thought to "spy" on my daughter when she was in Finland! She spent time in a lot of out of the way places. I'll go back and scope it out : )

Marianne Barkman said...

Cindy..what a cool idea...scoping out the area where a book I'm reading takes place. Then, what happens when I can't find the bakery? And Leslie, is there someway you can see in the buildings, taste those donuts?
Great post! Thanks, Audra for having her.

Jeanne T said...

LOVED this post, Leslie! My husband introduced me to GoogleEarth when we were helping his parents find a home in a different state. It was amazing to be able to get that street-level view to get a feel for the neighborhoods they were considering.

I never thought to transpose this to doing research for books! I love what you've done and how how you made so many connections that helped deepen your stories! Though my stories are set in the state in which I live, it would be great to look at the neighborhoods where I've set them to get a feel for what it's like to live there. :)

I'm definitely planning on using your great "tutorial" here to do some more authentic research! Loved this!

Barbara Scott said...

Leslie, your post is priceless! I never thought about using Google Earth for historical research. My husband Mike is an avid user of the program, checking out people and places he used to hang out with in L.A. I had no idea GE had so many functions. Since I'm beginning the research for my second book, your advice came at just the right time. I'll definitely use it. Thanks!!

Julie Lessman said...

OH. MY. GOODNESS!!!

Leslie, I agree with both Tina and Barbara -- you are a genius and this post is priceless!!!

I almost never print off a post, but I am not only planning to do that, but I'm bookmarking this post as one of my favorites, girl -- INCREDIBLE information!!

I dabbled with it a bit like you suggested because I am writing a book in 1868 Virginia City, NV, but I couldn't get the historical info to go back beyond 1990, but anything helps. Now ... for this Internet illiterate to learn how to use it!! :)

Hugs,
Julie

Myra Johnson said...

Wow, fantastic tips here, Leslie Ann! Thanks so much for being our guest today! It's been awhile since I played with Google Earth, but you've inspired me to use it more often.

Honestly, what did writers do before the Internet Age? I have trouble even remembering what torture it was to write and edit and rewrite on my old IBM Selectric typewriter!

Pam Hillman said...

Headed off to a play date with my daughter-in-law. But I'll have to get back here and read this again later! :) My hubby showed me a great site called www.acme.com/planimeter but I'm going to download Google Earth too. Too fun!

Janet Dean said...

Leslie, welcome back to Seekerville! Like Barbara S and Julie L, I had not thought to use Google Earth to research my historical romances. Thanks for the great tips! I've never played with Google Earth so will need every one of them!

Your book looks great! Thanks for the giveaway!

Janet



Myra Johnson said...

Just played some more with Google Earth--FUN!!!

tammy johnson said...

Thank you, Leslie!
I've been struggling with my current story for a lot of reasons, but setting has been one of them. I've never been where the story is set and I can't imagine getting there any time soon! I was using google maps just for a general idea of locations, but hadn't even thought of Google Earth! I've been playing with it for the last hour and already I've come up with a few new ideas!

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Good morning! I can't wait to read the comments. I have coffee in hand and raring to go. Ask questions if something doesn't make sense and I'll try it and see why.

Thanks Miss Audra and Seekerville for having me as your guest. It's always a joy to be here.

Hugs
Leslie Ann

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Cindy,
Google Earth really is cool. Now I didn't think of it to visit places in books that I'm reading. Thanks for that tip! Cyber locations? As in?

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Tina, Well now, I'm liking being called a genius. You just keep thinking that. I'm going to be writing a Rom Com soon and I think it's time for a movie marathon. Considering the rain we've been getting...good thing to do when I can't be outside.

Enjoy the retreat!!

Hugs
L

Ivga Stark said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Wow you guys, I'm getting a swollen head. I'm glad the post is resonating with you all. I was so excited to write it.

JULIE, you so crack me up. Nope, no GE in 1868, unless there were little green men in flying saucers, but I have no idea how to tap into their data base.

MARY you're right, it's a blast, I can spend hours on it.

KELI, I love that you went to France and it felt familiar. That is a testament to the fact it really works. Awesome.

Back for more comments in a minute. Again, I love being here.

Hugs
LA

Vince said...

Hi LA:

Love the cover on "Viking Gold" and the blurb already inspired me to preorder the book! I've been to Norway where my grandmother was born and can't wait to get into your story. I've taken Viking history in college and have read about the Vikings all my life. I think I'm the right reader for that book.

One thing: the first book in the Carswell Series "Stone of Heaven" was 300+ pages and "Viking Gold" is just 200 pages. Is there any special marketing strategy involved with this development? (I'm a big fan of novellas and shorter adventure stories. Long adventure stories, no matter how good, have a tendency to wear the reader out and with that weariness comes a sense of sameness. "Short and sweet with all loose ends tied up nice and neat", that's my POV.  )

I've been on location for both Carswell Series books at this point. Do you have plans to go to Venice or Machu Picchu in future books? I'd like to put a request in now. : )

BTW: I'd also say that your Google Earth post shows your creative genius but we've known that from your past posts. Screen writers still dazzle me.

Also, Google Earth can be very helpful in non-exotic locations like a fictional mid-west town. Just find a real town to your liking, change names, and your fictional town will come to life in front of your eyes.

Vince

P.S. The artwork for both books clearly shows the books are part of the same series.Wonderful fusion.

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

RUTH, you are so right, talking to people is the best way to get those insights into an area.

And it's interesting, I have a series set in Boulder at Christmas and it's so cool for people to comment or ask questions about what I thought were the most mundane things. So finding those things adds character to one's story.

Here's a question...do you guys use real stores, coffee shops? What about monuments like the Niaros Cathedral?

Hugs
LA

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi VINCE,
It's great to see you here!! Thanks for the comment on the covers, I really wanted them to be in the same vein, so when people looked at them, they'd know they were a series.

One of the things I so enjoyed about writing the series so far is that I take the basis of a myth and rework it taking it to another level. Stone of Heaven had the jade and Itzamna Ahu, this has Viking gold and Odin.

It is a shorter book. I worried about that a bit and realized (Audra is really good at this) that it didn't need more words. I could have padded it, but the story is tight, runs fast and that's what I wanted. We'll see when you get it.

Venice? That sounds fun. Machu Picchu? Hmmm, maybe just for me to see, but they sound like they were two of your favorite spots. I was thinking of setting the third and final wrap up book in the US. Maybe in St. Augustine, or Colorado. But Venice....I can feel the gondolas sway....

Hugs
LA

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

TAMMY, isn't that cool finding new ideas for your story b/c of what you can see? I was so excited when that happened to me and it really made the story point/settings work for the story not just be a travelogue. Glad it's helping.

Hugs
LA

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Oh VINCE,
I wanted to tell you I'm taking a "blurbing" class with Laurie Schenbly this month.

The Viking Gold blurb isn't from the class, but she's in advertising as were you, so it'll be interesting already I've learned much and it's only in its 4th day.

It's awesome that you bought the pre-order b/c of the blurb.

Thanks for letting me know.
Hugs Again,
LA

Julie Lessman said...

LESLIE SAID: "JULIE, you so crack me up. Nope, no GE in 1868, unless there were little green men in flying saucers, but I have no idea how to tap into their data base."

Okay, here's the sad part -- I actually thought GE could do this!! I mean, I knew there was no GE in 1868, of course (which should be a relief to anyone who knows me), but I still figured they had old topography maps they could draw from and recreate the setting back then, but I guess not. :)

But it's still very helpful, giving me the feel for the place, and the placement of the mountains, etc.

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

KELI SAID: "When we visited her that Christmas, I couldn't figure out why everything felt so familiar since I'd never been to France before. Once my jet leg lessened it hit me that I'd seen the places before, thanks to Google Earth."

LOL, Keli, that's too funny!! And VERY fun!!

MARY HICKS SAID: "My daughter's in Florida and I'm in Oklahoma, we zoom in on each other sometimes when we're on the phone—just for fun."

Oh, gosh, I never even thought of this, Mary -- SO cool!! Now I'll have to do it too!!

MYRA SAID: "Honestly, what did writers do before the Internet Age? I have trouble even remembering what torture it was to write and edit and rewrite on my old IBM Selectric typewriter!"

Oh, AMEN!! I remember how much I hated learning the Internet when we first started using it light years ago at work. I was a travel writer who was constantly hauling books from the library at work to my cube for research. I was a moron!! The Internet is a goldmine for a writer, and I would be lost without it, and not just for research either!!

Hugs,
Julie

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

GLYNNA,
I'm so pleased that the post worked for you. I can't tell you how important GE has become. Even in my hometown, I used it to see how a mountain would look from their yard. I could have driven there, but I didn't want to be seen as a stalker or some casing their house.

Hugs
LA

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi BARBARA,
I'm so glad the post is helpful. I always wonder :)

And I'm seeing more of you all saying it's a great local tool and it is. So use it to take a trip in your own area.

Hugs
LA

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi JANET,
I'd not thought of it for historical research either, but you know it would work. While things change, like Boulder didn't have many trees in the early 1900's the mountains were there, the rivers were there.

BTW HOW MANY OF YOU USE CARNEGIE LIBRARIES FOR OLD PHOTOGRAPHS? I wonder if Carnegie is online?

Vince said...

Hi LA:

If your next book in the series is going to be in the USA, I think Mesa Verde would have great potential. I think Mesa Verde maybe the most mystical place in this country. It's as if the ancient people are still living there -- only not at home at the moment. Check it out on Google Earth.

(Granted, Sedona might have more mystical hotspots but Mesa Verde had by far the larger population. Also there is the mystery as to what happened to the population which just seemed to disappear like the lost tribe of Israel.)

Marketing Point: millions of people have visited Mesa Verde National Park -- all will have a higher interest in your book than the general population -- and just think of the cover possibilities! )

I think I'd like to take the blurb writing course. Is it too late this time? I'm a quick study.

Vince

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

JULIE, we need a site for topo maps. However I do think most of the terrain wouldn't have changed much. That's if you can see it under all the building etc.

I posted in my reply to Janet that Carnegie libraries are an awesome place to find old photographs.

Just thinking here.

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hey JACKIE,
I hope you have fun using it. Holler if you have questions.

Hugs
LA

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

HI MARIANNE,
Here's a thought, one of those internet buddies you cultivate, have them go taste for you :)

Nope I wish there was a great way...HOWEVER, I did need the interior of a local coffee shop (Yes I could have gone there) so I Googled it and voila, the interior was right there.

Hugs
LA

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Leslie,

I was working on my tablet and the comment I posted for you ended up on another older post. Go figure.

I'll try again...

Great tutorial on Google Earth. Thanks for all the tips and info. I've used it for the basics but want to spend some time following your suggestions...amazing what one can do with technology, especially with the right teacher! :)

A few years ago, I used Google Earth to "see" Nome, Alaska. Still have to remind myself that I haven't been there in person because the memories of what I found are still so real, even after all this time.

I'm wondering...if the satellite went over when someone was outside their house or a building, could the GE user see--and perhaps ID--that persons? Hmmm? Something to use in a suspense novel perhaps. Any idea, Leslie, if that could happen?

Debby Giusti said...

Waving to Keli. Love that you viewed France before traveling there! Great idea. Also a way to relive some special sightseeing spots!

Debby Giusti said...

Leslie, you mentioned CARNEGIE LIBRARIES FOR OLD PHOTOGRAPHS? How do you access them? Onsite in the various Carnegie Libraries? Is there a special area/publication? Call me clueless! :

Jan Drexler said...

Hi Leslie,

Thanks for the tips! I often use Google Maps for my research, but Google Earth looks so much more complete.

Another source I use extensively for my historical is Historic Mapworks. http://www.historicmapworks.com/

It has been wonderful to find maps of towns from the 1800's, plat maps, etc.

And, like you, I'm a research junkie. I can - and do - spend hours researching minute details. Isn't it fun?

Tina Radcliffe said...

Exactly, Vince. Make your fictional town at the setting of a real town. Makes it easy to remember the details for future books.

Kathryn Barker said...

Wow Leslie....Fantastic virtual GoogleEarth-workshop!! Helpful, helpful stuff...I've played with it, but never really in depth...so good to get some tips for using info in a story!

Seems like you're quite the treasure hunter yourself! Your resource contacts are just amazing!

Love Jan Drexler's comment about being a "research junkie!" Oh, yeah! Sometimes I feel like my three year old grandson with the never-ending "Why? But Why?" Does anyone else find it difficult to know when enough is enough? LOL

Hoping y'all have a tea-lightful day!!

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi DEBBY,
Yes, you can see people in the images. Even my brother was in one. He was the Google car drive up the road and was outside on purpose when it came back. It could work for a mystery, it would be one of those random pure luck photo snaps that could solve or worsen a case. Great thinking.

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Vince, Email Laurie and find out. Give her a bit of your background. booklaurie@yahoo.com more on your other thoughts later.

L

Karin Kaufman said...

Thanks for the tips, Leslie! Google Earth -- aren't we living in great times for writers?

Myra Johnson said...

Thanks for the Historic Mapworks link, JAN! Must bookmark that one!

VINCE, I will never forget our visit to Mesa Verde back in the 1990s. It was just fascinating! I took lots of photos, and now to look at them, it almost seems like I'm looking at a diorama model. Those massive cliff dwelling sites look like miniatures.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Leslie Ann, Thanks for joining us here in Seekerville. I love Google Earth. I used to have students look up their back yard. It would be so funny because they would freak out and say now they have to behave in their own yard. LOL

I have used email because i emailed a tour guide who gave me permission when I was traveling in Spain. I needed more info about the Christmas celebrations there and he sent me all kinds of cool info including a video.

My preference is to actually travel and live in the settings of my book. I try to pick settings in places where I have been.

Thanks again for joining us.

Sandra Leesmith said...

I agree Vince, Mesa Verde is wonderful. It is so awesome that you can't help but feel God so close. My current WIP is taking place in Navajo Country near Monument Valley. yay

Sandra Leesmith said...

Jan Dexler, I can believe you are a research junkie. You can tell you have done a lot of research when you read one of your books. Research is my favorite part of writing also.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Vince, I like setting a fictional town in the general vicinity of a real town. That way I can mention things from the real town, but not get myself in trouble when I change things up. Locals don't like us messing with their homes!

I'm working on a fun historical novella series in a little Western town and it's got ties to the East, but women who are determined to forge their own way. I love savvy Western women!

Debby Giusti said...

Laughing at Sandra, our former teacher, having her students Google their backyards! Too funny...ah, but true and maybe a bit Big Brother-ish at times. Everything comes with a downside.

You've opened our eyes to a lot of possibilities, Leslie! Thank you!

Now to build a story around that Google Earth sighting of the kid in the backyard. Hmmm? My inspirational wheels are turning...

Sandy Smith said...

So interesting, Leslie. I will have to download Google Earth. I like to write local settings, but I might want to at least have my characters visit someplace. Thanks for all the information.

Vince said...

Hi Sandra:

My wife and I love Navajo Country near Monument Valley and try to visit there often. We read stories set there all the time: Tony Hillerman, Anne Hillerman, J. A. Jance, Judith Van Gieson, James Doss, a few Navada Barr mysteries, plus others that we find by their covers. I want to order your new book the first day it becomes available!

We call the area the "Big Empty." I would live there if Linda did not have all her family in Oklahoma.

The amazing thing about Mesa Verde is that it is not a ruin. It is all stone and household items are still strewn about as if the people had just left yesterday in a big hurry. I don't think there is another place like it in the USA.

DebH said...

I haven't played with Google Earth, but after reading this post, I'm thinking I need to add this to my writer's toolbox. As a diver, I'm quite interested in your book. I love reading stories with scuba diving in them.

Great post. Please put my name in the draw.

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi KARIN, GE is an awesome tool and...it was good to have you on my blog. Thanks for being a guest.

SANDRA, I agree, I'd rather go there, but I won't let not being there stop me from writing the book :)

DEBBY, you're so welcome, it's always a treat to be here. You guys rock.

SANDY, do download it and play, it's not for everyone, but it can be an amazing tool.

VINCE, Now I'm seriously thinking Mesa Verde. Have you ever been to Chimney Rock?

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi DEBH, it was interesting talking to Sven Gust about the diving in the fjord. It's a totally different kind of dive. And since they're so deep I had to learn about AUV and ROV's. Autonomous Underwater Vehicles. That was more research, but so worth it.

Thanks for reading the post.
Hugs
LA

Amanda Cabot said...

Leslie -- This was fascinating. And now I know how why all the details in VIKING GOLD seemed so authentic -- they were. For those of you who're anxiously awaiting the release of the book, as someone who had the privilege of being a beta reader, let me tell you you're in for a real adventure.

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

KATHRYN, you know one of the things I love about writing is all that I LEARN. Amazing things.

My heroine is an adventure junkie and me, yep, a research junkie :)

Hugs
LA

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

AMANDA, thank you so much. Not only for posting such kind words today, but for the time you took to make my book better. I hope it gives people an adrenaline rush via the safety of their chairs.

It was a fun and tortuous book to write.

Hugs
LA

Vince said...

Hi LA:

I just enrolled in the class. Writing short copy, under 200 words, is what I have always loved most.

We saw Chimney Rock on our Mesa Verde trip. We saw it the day we tried to ride the Durango rail road which we discovered was sold out. Who'd think a train would sell out? We try to see as many sites as we can and then we regret that we did not stay long enough to see it properly. So we have to go back. One of our favorite things to do is take the drive from Phoenix to Sedona. Now that is God's country. We also want to take the train from Williams to the Grand Canyon. We never caught it at the right time.

We are hoping to go to Sedona or Lake Powell and meet my California brother and his wife for a week at a resort.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hey Vince, did you read my novella in With This Kiss? It is set on Lake Powell. It is called Where The Eagle Flies. You would like it I think.
The setting anyway. smile

The train to Grand Canyon is fun. You need to stay overnight at Williams and then you are there in the morning to hop on board.

That train ride does the Polar express and it is very popular at Christmas time. smile

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Debby,, I'm so laughing that you are already cooking up a story using Google Earth. LOL I bet it will be a fun read. I love your suspense novels.

Vince said...

Hi Sandra:

I have "Where the Eagle Flies" displayed on my Kindle right now. It's hard to keep up with all the stories in these novellas. Usually the stories are so good that it only takes two or three to get your money's worth for the whole collection. After that there always seems to be a shinny new novella collection dangling a few 'can't resist' stories before my eyes! Sometimes I feel like the mule who starved to death between two very large stacks of hay. They were exactly the same size and he couldn't make up his mind which stack to start on! (I heard that in church but I don't think it is in the bible.)

BTW: The last time we were in Williams, as the train left the station, a full marching band came out to send the people off. Do they do that every time or was it a holiday?

Vince

P.S. One of the locals in Williams told us that up in the hills there were still a large number of 1960's hippies and to be careful if we went up there. Is that something you have heard about?

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

The train sounds like fun. Especially at Christmas, will put that on my to-do list. I love being retired...no wait, I'm not, I'm writing :)

You guys are always a blast, thanks for having me Audra, I always love it.

Hugs
LA

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

PS if I missed anyone, please forgive me.

L

Mary Connealy said...

Leslie, wow! You are doing such cool stuff.
I used to have Google Earth on my computer but I think that was one computer ago. When it died I didn't re-up the Google Earth app.

But I love playing with it. I set a book on the WEST side of Pike's Peak, with ranchers. But I wanted to make sure it wasn't so rugged or so wooded that no cattle could graze there. I just didn't know. Was Pike's Peak the beginning of wretched, rock covered land or a second mountain sheer of any grass?

It was fun hunting around and really looking at the lay of the land and it changed the story I wrote....for the better. Because I could find that a herd of cattle lived there but I didn't have the land rugged enough.

Mostly though, on Google Earth, I just tried to find my own children's houses. And mine (way out in the country, at least then, we were all blurred. No google satellite or google car could find us. :)

I've got to get back on it and see what to do next!

Mary Connealy said...

Vince listening to you talk about the trips you take makes me so restless to just go SEE what I need to research.

Sure if it was NORWAY it would be out of the question, but why couldn't I go see the east side of Pike's Peak, huh?

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

MARY you come out this way and Audra and I will show you around. You were out a couple of years ago weren't you?

Hugs
LA

Sandra Leesmith said...

Yes Vince, there are groups of people living in the forest in some places. They are usually no problem except for sanitation issues unless they are growing pot then you have to be careful because they will shoot to protect their crop. I've never personally come across any in Williams but then I don't hike that area much. Have run into that a lot in California.

The marching band is usually there during peek season.

And the two stacks of hay. That is hilarious. I so know what you mean. chuckle

Donna said...

Leslie, your post is fascinating! How fun to 'meet' all of those people that are nice enough to give you information. I would have never thought to contact people that were 'in the know.'

I have experimented with Google Earth a few times but couldn't navigate it too well. This should help. Now I can make use of it.

There are so many useful links in the comments as well. I'll have to print the comments!

Viking Gold looks like a great adventure! Please enter me.

Missy Tippens said...

I'm late! Welcome, Leslie! What a great post. I need to give some of these things a try. Even if I'm making up fictional towns, I can sure base them on real towns. Looking at those while writing can help.

I love how you've found some great people to help you. That's such a fantastic resource!

Missy Tippens said...

Ruthy, I love your idea of using a fictional town near a real town. I haven't tried that yet (other than setting my small town not too far from Atlanta).

Julie Lessman said...

LESLIE SAID: "I posted in my reply to Janet that Carnegie libraries are an awesome place to find old photographs."

Thanks for the tip, Leslie -- I'll give that a shot!

Hugs!
Julie

Edwina said...

Fascinating and informative post! Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

Becky Dempsey said...

That is so cool! I never really thought of Google Earth as a research tool! Of course, my settings have all been local to me, so I know the area, but this gives me hope to branch out :) I did look up sunrise/sunset times and average temperatures, but that's nothing compared to Google Earth!

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

BECKY, EDWINA MISSY AND DONNA,
I'm glad you all made it to the party. Yes, Google Earth really opens up a world (pun intended) of opportunities for research for books, on travel and simply learning. Got to say I love the internet.
Hugs
LA

marilyn leach said...

Great info, LA. Viking Gold should be exciting. Cheers