Friday, August 5, 2016

Best of the Archives: Road-tripping to The Right Setting

Goooooood Morning, Seeeeekerville!!!!

Ruthy here, and I'm just gonna say there's not much I like better than a ROAD TRIP with my peeps!!!

And I'm not talkin' marshmallow chicks here, we chatted up those Peeps last week, 

I'm goin' with the lovely daughters, husband and friends that I drag onto these missions to help me create the "land base" for series writing... (waving to Deb Marvin who hooked up with us in December of 2012!!)

Story setting is huge to me, but you don't have a lot of time or space to "set" a book in category romances, so setting a series of books allows me the fun of developing a town/village/lake/ranch/neighborhood that works for a bunch of stories.

"Kirkwood Lake" is a fictional body of water loosely based on Chautauqua Lake in Western New York, but when I went looking for the mountain/hill/lake combination I wanted for this new series, it didn't exist. I stopped into Rushford Lake, NY, and it was beautiful, but small for my vision.... Then Cuba Lake, a man-made lake in the far corner of Allegany County... Nope. Needed bigger, I was seeing a bigger lake with several villages dotting the shores.

When we started to circle Chautauqua Lake, I knew I had the right body of water! SO GORGEOUS!!!!

I cruised the stores and villages surrounding the lake.... and if you look at this pic, you'll see that we're actually just west of the Enchanted Mountain Region of New York.

I wanted mountains. I wanted this lake. I write fiction.


I set up my villages on "Kirkwood Lake" and snugged the lake a little to the east of Chautauqua Lake, probably risking mayhem by putting it smack dab in the middle of an Indian Reservation. But I can get away with it because it's fiction... set amid reality.

View of Olean, NY tucked into Enchanted Mountains region of northern Appalachia. How stinkin' gorgeous is this? "Brigadoon"-pretty, right?
Rolling hills, gorgeous lake, riparian interests, farmers' rights, family discord, medical malpractice, crumbling marriages, happily ever afters, sick children, babies, lost babies, storms, a heroic horse that makes me smile every time I think of him, a sweet minister, pretty churches, holiday charm, winter's quiet, lack of faith, amazing faith, grace, forgiveness, humor, food, weddings, pretty dresses, cute jeans, guys in uniform....


Gotcha right there, didn't I? Because how stinkin' cute are cops against a setting like this?

Or this?

This is VIDLER'S 5 & 10 in East Aurora, New York, a fun, vintage, classic nod to yesteryear!


SO DO I!!!!

So far we're three books into this series, three delightful stories where hero and heroine ALWAYS COME FIRST.... but multiple books let me take the reader into cafes.... church pews.... gazebos.... apple farms.... dairy farms with a glass-bottle dairy attached!!!... and we can see the good and bad of small-town living... Because everybody dies famous in a small town!

You can get it HERE RIGHT NOW!!!!
Setting is a mosaic, and I've always loved that art-form. It's never enough to have one farm set on a hill, but a farm with a store attached, set on a hill overlooking a gorgeous and upscale lake with lake frontage that the town WANTS BADLY TO ACCESS FOR DEVELOPMENT.... while two heirs are fighting with the other three heirs, trying to force them to sell the farm so they can take their cut and RUN...

Now my setting has become part of the plot.

I took a weekend drive and turned it into the basics of what is so far a five-book series... but we're already talking more books set in Kirkwood, more stories about the multi-cultural Campbell family and who doesn't love a cafe called "Tina Marie's"...

 With a proprietor who had a thing.... back in the day....

for the Special Forces Campbell brother who has no intention of ever coming back to town to stay... but life throws us curves when we least expect it.

And who wouldn't love a pair of Italian seamstresses who come to town in time to help make costumes for the town's year-long bicentennial celebration??? And maybe win a heart along the way?

Writing successful series in category length is developing the timing for saying the most with the least, and believe me, having a strong editor on hand helps make that happen.

Coffee's on (Helen might have an even fresher pot going, so be sure to check her out!)  We're chillaxin' with comfort food this morning, because it's been snowing (STILL!!!) in the west and I've heard we might see a little more in upstate before we wave winter bye-bye... (Hahahaha! Of course as I post this archived post about settings in shorter books, it's 92 degrees in upstate New York!)

How about some stuffed French Toast with warm NYS maple syrup?

Sounds delightful! 

In real time I'm developing a recipe right now (yes, like today, August 5, 2016) for cinnamon bread pudding because it's in an upcoming Christmas novella.... and you know how much I love recipes!) So you should be seeing that in Yankee Belle Cafe and on my website eventually, because there's really little more delicious than bread pudding with warm butter or caramel sauce...


Multi-published, bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne is living her dream of writing sweet books with unforgettable characters. She lives with her husband Dave on a small upstate New York farm and they have a whole bunch of kids, grandkids, chickens, cats and dogs and wild animals trying to eat those very same chickens... and their freshly grown sweet corn!  This is her latest "Grace Haven" release from Love Inspired books, available in stores across the country right now, and on and Barnes &

She loves to hear from readers and writers! With over a million books sold to date, Ruthy loves to give free (sometimes good!) advice! E-mail her at or connect with her on facebook at Ruth Logan Herne... Where she loves to share bits of family, fun and faith with all of her 

Comments are closed on Friday so we can write and read. This post first appeared in Seekerville too long ago to remember.