Sunday, January 5, 2014

Finding The Setting

 I'm so pleased to have as my guest today Babette James, who writes contemporary romances. She's talking today about how the setting for your book is as important as the characters, regardless of the genre in which you are writing. So, without further ado, I'm turning the floor over to Babette. 


When I wrote Clear As Day, the first book in my River series, I used a real location for the setting that I had loved visiting and that was very vivid to me, Lake Mohave.  In fact, I had written pages of setting description as an exercise featuring the summer heat and cool waters of Lake Mohave before Kay and Nate ever appeared in that first scene and the little story was born that would eventually grow into Clear As Day. The other stories I have in the works for my River series also grew out of that scenic desert setting.
Summertime Dream began with a setting, as well, but in a very different way. I’ve never been to Falk’s Bend. The town and Falk House can’t be found on any map outside of my imagination. Originally, I planned to write a short story around a Fourth of July picnic, something very sentimental and traditional, and a story that had absolutely nothing to do with Lake Mohave or my River series. I didn’t even know in which state I was building my fictional town. I simply had in mind a very green, steamy hot July 4th day at a picnic ground in a town park.
This time, there was no wandering off into pages of simple setting. The viewpoint of the heroine that would be Margie was already in the scene, frustrated and yearning for change, yet loving her small town traditions. Then my hero walked into the scene and I discovered that he was in town because he’d unexpectedly inherited a house. At that stage, my hero and I both were thinking some sort of old, but ordinary house.
Ordinary was not the word for the house my imagination concocted: a grandly decrepit old white elephant of a mansion. After the real locations I used in Clear As Day, drafting away in a fictional setting was unsettling. A confusing feeling, considering all the world building I’ve been doing for my fantasy stories, where crafting fictional places was perfectly normal. Stuck on the need for “realness” I began to research. Looking for visuals of the house led me to the lovely old Second Empire style Heck-Anderson house in Raleigh, South Carolina, which is very close to the house I first imagined.

From that point on, the details of Falk’s Bend became easier. I finally settled my little town in the state of Missouri because of its many rivers, a great location for a hero with a hobby of fishing, and because its rural areas and history felt so opposite of Christopher’s life in Los Angeles.  Also, while most Swedish emigrants settled in the upper Midwest, Missouri felt like a place where Christopher’s enterprising ancestor might choose to build a community and his fortunes. I ended up having a wonderful time writing the settings in Summertime Dream, and the house became almost as much a character in the story as my hero and heroine.
If you are a writer, how do you go about choosing a setting for your stories? If you are a reader, do you prefer settings that you could actually visit or places of the imagination?

Blurb:

The Fourth of July is over, but for these summer lovers the fireworks have just begun.

An unexpected inheritance brings business consultant Christopher Gordon from Los Angeles to quaint Falk’s Bend. He’s carved a week from his demanding schedule to list his great-grandparents’ house for sale and explore his roots. However, disturbing family secrets and the sweet temptation of writer Margie Olsson derail his plans, challenging him to seize the elusive dream missing from his hectic life— love.

A recent brush with death shook Margie’s life, but not her dreams and she’s ready to move forward. Only, standing up to her loving, over-protective family isn’t easy. Helping Christopher explore the derelict mansion and unravel his grandmother’s mysterious past should be a harmless fun taste of independence. But when her experimental summer fling ignites into unexpected love, how can her small town dreams work with his big city life?

Excerpt:

Margie touched his shoulder and had him turn away from the mess to focus on the view toward the river.
Here the picturesque natural beauty of the property began: the land sloped gently down past the ancient summer house and purple martin houses to the reedy pond where a duck flew in and landed with a quack, and stretched on through weedy tangles of wild blackberry and rogue saplings to the ancient apple and plum trees sagging with unripe fruit, and beyond to the river invisible in the distance, marking where the Engberg’s farm began on the far bank.
Appreciation softened his tense face.
“Beautiful, isn’t it? I fell so in love with this place when I was little and dreamed I’d live in a house like this someday.” Margie laughed. “Of course, in my dreams it was a bit less rundown.”
“I’d imagine so. Interested in buying?”
“Oh, if only I could, I would in an instant. I’m sure the property alone is worth far more than I can afford. It’s a huge piece of land. And the repairs and restoration...” Longing swelled. She sighed. Someone else would buy and live in her dream home.
Quiet fell between them for a while. Bees buzzed in the clover. Birds sang, chirped, and flitted. A hummingbird whizzed past. Two more ducks joined the first amid quiet bickering quacks. Dandelion fluff drifted by on an unfelt breeze.
A truck rattled down the lane, breaking the moment.
“Suppose we ought to head back...” Christopher turned, so close their arms brushed, but instead of retreating, he hesitated. Their eyes locked. Where dismay and frustration had filled his green eyes, want simmered. The heavy air electrified.
You need a change.
On a surge of bewildering crazy courage, she stretched up and kissed him. The brief brush of lips to lips left her shaken and her heart pounding, like she had just come up for air.
His eyes widened in his serious, craggy face.
No, oh, no. Blowing out a unsteady breath, she pressed a hand to her stomach. She’d carried her day’s adventure one impetuous step too far. Her heroines were the daring part of her. She’d never even kissed on a first date before, and this wasn’t even a date.
Before the apology fluttering in her mind could break free, he cupped her cheek and touched his mouth down on hers.
Thinking faded as feeling soared. His gentle touch sweet and fascinating, his lips warm and firm played over hers, unhurried in his caresses and enticing brushes. He laced his fingers into her hair, cradling her head in his hand. He tenderly nipped her lip and licked at her mouth, inviting her rather than taking.
She sighed, delighting in this lovely, reckless rush. Yes. Yes. Yes. Forget that they had just met. She could want again.
Gripping his shoulder, she accepted the heady invitation, and the kiss deepened into perfect.

Come fall in love at the river:

Summertime Dream is available on Amazon: http://viewBook.at/SummertimeDream

“Summertime Dream is a perfect glass of Lemonade on a hot day. Simple, elegant and beautifully written. I enjoyed each scene. Loved the chemistry between the characters and the house. Great story!” ~ Deborah Diez

Clear As Day, (★★★★½ RT Book Reviews, ★★★★★ Top Pick The Romance Reviews) is available at:

Amazon: http://viewbook.at/ClearAsDay


And at all other eBook retailers

About the Author:
Babette James writes sweetly scorching contemporary romance and loves reading nail-biting tales with a satisfying happily ever after. When not dreaming up stories, she enjoys playing with new bread recipes and dabbling with paints. As a teacher, she loves encouraging new readers and writers as they discover their growing abilities. Her class cheers when it’s time for their spelling test! Born in New Jersey and raised in Southern California, she’s had a life-long love of the desert and going down the shore. Babette now lives in New Jersey with her wonderfully patient husband and extremely spoiled cats.

You can find Babette at:






Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.com/e/B007KDJWV8




9 comments:

  1. Hi, Becky, I'm delighted to visit here with you today!

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  2. Hi Babette. It's my pleasure to host you today. We've had lots of foot traffic, but leaving a message can sometimes be difficult. But as long as people read your message, I'm fine with it.

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  3. Hi Babette. Setting is sometimes a fickle element that is hard to nail down. For me, meditating on my characters, their personalities, motivations, and goals. help me to place them in a setting that serves to ground the story. Best of success with CLEAR AS DAY.
    Can New York financial executive, Victoria Ballard, survive a forced marriage with a Middle Eastern Prince?

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  4. I try to pick places I can research online if I haven't been there. I usually have some aspect of Christianity in my works, so I keep close to scripture, quoting it entirely if I can, there are great setting descriptions there. If it's a paranormal work, I build on what's already known, and push it a little further. FYI, get on Pinterest and grab pics that flesh out your works and your settings. You can make it private as you're writing, then if you want make it public later. Readers love seeing how their favorite authors process, then create settings. I have a Books and Updates board that I use That has pictures that give flesh to things, places and people I have written about.

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  5. Excellent post! Thank you, Babette.

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  6. Hi, Lynda, thanks! Characters fitting with the setting is so important.

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  7. Hi, Trisha. Using Pinterest is a really good idea. I've been thinking about trying some story idea boards.

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  8. Hi, Kathy, thanks for stopping by!

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  9. NICE First kiss! Interesting to hear about your process. I'm very much a character / dialogue driven writer of the first draft. The setting tends to take on the form of a character for me before coming to life.

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