Monday, July 21, 2014

Writing Real: Location

Hello from Gail Gaymer Martin at:  

Over time, I’ve learned if I want to write real I need to visit the location of my novel. While creating a fictitious location can be easier, I’ve found that fans love to read about real places. I’ve also learned real places offer bonuses as I researched.

Bonus 1 -Realistic Details

My writing is known for realistic characters and locations that bring my stories to life. For the last few years, I’ve used real towns for my novels. When I use a fictitious street or home description, I usually pattern it after one that is real. By researching real location, authors can take photos, note impressions, involve the senses and later can recall their reaction and experience. This can add reality to their novels. When I do Internet research, the photos and information also come to life. 

Bonus 2 - Simulating Plot Ideas

While researching a town, authors can learn town history, 
sights, events and activities that help stimulate story ideas. Recently, I spent two days in the small town of Owosso. Though a lifelong resident of Michigan, I’ve never had reason to visit this mid-state town. My publisher, Love Inspired, enjoys stories set in rural areas and small towns, making Owosso perfect. This town has its own castle, built by a 1920s novelist, James Curwood, to use as his writing sanctuary. 

With children in some of my novels, learning about the town’s three Playscape venues was a find. Two of these areas provide a kid’s splash pool, slides, swings, rock wall, rope brides, a pavilion and gazebo.  One Playscape is located at the DeVries Nature Conservatory and gives children opportunities to study nature in a hands-on activities. Owosso also has a sled hill for winter fun. The town has a Steam Railroading Institute, an art gallery, a conference center, sleigh museum, community actors and theater, numerous community festivals and events, and a nearby town that has a historic village.  People can roller skate, bowl and shop in a four street area, and the town is filled with restaurants and churches. All of these features triggered ideas for novels in the Lilac Circle Series.

Bonus 3 – Making Contacts

The Chamber of Commerce is the location of the woman who is in charge of all city events. She graciously took me on a tour of some of the cities features. We drove through residential areas where I located the street I call Lilac Circle, featuring characters from my series. We went to the nearby town of Corunna to visit their Playscape in McCurdy Park where characters will find Sled Hill, the historic village and the county Courthouse which is part of the first book, Unexpected Mommy, 2015 release. Through my contact I learned about holiday events and their details, such as: Christmas, Easter egg hunt, 4th of July celebration and other unique city festivals and celebrations.

I also learned the local newspaper is privately owned and
is open to carrying local articles that would interest the town’s residence. I am hopeful I can receive some press when my book series is released. Another contact was the Owosso Bookstore where they are interested in carrying my books when released. I offered to do a book signing.  These personal contacts provide individuals to call for answers to question not found through research.

Bonus 4 – Tax Deductible
The cost for a research trip is travel expenses which are tax deductible. The benefits are high: realism, idea stimulation, contacts and the ability to feel, taste, touch, smell, hear and see the location of your story.
Yes, you can fabricate a town, and you must if it’s speculative, but being there is a far greater investment especially for contemporary fiction, as well as historical fiction which is heightened by walking the fields of Gettysburg, exploring a real plantation, seeing migrant workers and where they live.  How can a writer imagine looking at Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower or riding in a gondola on the Grand Canal without experiencing it? I have, and so could you.

Researching for this book was a great experience, and I've visited Heidelberg. Germany numerous times now. Dreaming of Castles is a romance with humor and one I love.

5 Star Amazon Reviews, Dreaming of Castles:   Many adventures and mis-adventures while in Germany. There is both humor and romance in the book. Hope you will read the book and enjoy it as much as I did.  Amazon Reviewer
Spring Dalton along with her ‘less than perfect’ figure faces her life head-on and her cousin’s offer to stay with her in Heidelberg, Germany fulfilling her dream of a becoming an artist, losing weight and being swept away by Prince Charming. On the train from Frankfurt to Heidelberg, Spring meets Matt who falls into her lap and the two strangers embark on a floundering yet amazing adventure. Will Spring dreams come true and will she find her Prince Charming. Chuckle your way through her adventure. 

Available in trade book or eBook format. For the Amazon links visit: Dreaming Of Castles


Keli Gwyn said...

I like using real locations in my historicals. It's such fun to bring California's Gold Rush-era towns to life. Since I live in the area, I'm able to do a lot of research. Love that part of the process.

Gwynly and I lived in Germany from 1988-1993 and loved it there. We've been to Heidelberg and admired the castle. Impressive!

Jennifer said...

I love castles they are so cool and that place you found at the top of your posting would be so cool to own. Good researching Gail and it looks like so much fun.
jennydtipton at gmail dot com