Laying a new floor is like Writing a novel

We are finishing up some major rehab on our home. The latest project was installing hardwood floors in the whole downstairs. I’d visualized what it would look like and was excited to see the finished project. The whole process reminds me of writing a novel. Each step in the process of installation took much longer than I anticipated, even with my wonderful son bringing all his great tools over to make the job easier. My hubby, grandson and my son’s brother-in-law all had a part in giving me my beautiful wood floors.

We had lots of insulation and carpet bits to remove from the subfloor. That reminded me of all the repetitive words and unnecessary phrases in my draft.

Rough draft/ subflooring

Once the yucky old carpet was removed we discovered that the subfloor was threequarters of an inch below the wood floor already in the kitchen. We could have laid the wood floor and left a nice trip zone between the family room and the kitchen. That short cut would have saved time but made it less than I envisioned. Less professional looking and an even flow of flooring from room to room.

The subfloor is the rough draft, the time to get the story on paper. Nailing down the story arc is the key to giving your manuscript a good subfloor.

Short cuts early on in a manuscript create problems later. If your idea for a scene isn’t working because previous scenes don’t lead up to your present scenario you will trip up your readers. Don’t leave those uneven parts in your novel. Early in the process, you can fix them.

Stripping the area down to the subflooring revealed a problem. The previous owner left the linoleum when they laid the wood floor. To be sure the finished floor had an even flow required an additional layer of three-quarter-inch subfloor on top of the original. It leveled the floor to the perfect height to install the new flooring.

Rework those early drafts until the story arc moves as it should. Be sure each scene seamlessly flows into the others.

The first draft, even the second is that subfloor stage.

What a difference adding the extra layer of subfloor made. Tweaking your manuscript at this phase adds depth and makes it better.  Although the new subflooring looked clean and fresh I still wasn’t about to invite guests over. The same is true of your manuscript at this stage—don’t rush to send it to a publisher.

Proper layout

My husband and son taking a break from laying the floor. The bare floor is beautiful but there is so much more that needs doing before we can reveal the finished product.

The bare wood is beautiful and to remain so there is a specific way it needs to be laid. Each new row of planking must be laid so the seam of the previous row of planking is met with a solid surface. The patterns make the flooring firmer.

At this point in your story creation, you need to go back and layer your scenes. Check to see your character arc is moving along. Look for show vs tell areas and checking your POV.  Be sure surprise twists in the plot make sense, otherwise, the reader will be irritated. The pattern of your story arc and character development must be a thing of beauty to keep readers engaged.

The new and old flooring had to be sanded before the final step can take place. The stain had to match throughout, and it had to lay flat with no bubbles or imperfections. At this stage, you may gut an entire scene from your novel or rearrange sentences or even chapters.

Turning good to great

It took a weekend to get the floor laid properly and it still wasn’t entertainment ready. This step pairs with the polished final draft. But there are still things to transform the manuscript from good to great.

After the stain and varnish are added, the true character of the flooring comes to life. Then you wait a few days before furniture can be placed on it. This step in your manuscript is the polish your prose stage. You scour it for overused words, correcting punctuation and grammar (errors you missed the first ten times you read through your work) and tweak your character arc. Anything to make your novel shine.

Trim and final touches

The trim pieces are added and then the floor is complete. Your publisher adds the trim pieces and gets it ready for release.

The time from ripping out the carpet to completing the floor was several months. We had other rooms that need to be finished first. My son has a full-time job so he came when he could fit it in.

A book can take up to eighteen months after you sign a contract before it sees the light of release. During that time editors work with you to rework and polish to perfection, the right cover is chosen. The front and back copy added, and the font is selected. Not to mention the proper layout of the e-book edition.

My hubby looked over the finished floor to see if there was any touchup needed. We discussed the type of lightening we need and the furniture placement to set off the floor to its best advantage.

Shortly after receiving your paperback copies in the mail it’ll be release day and your beautiful novel is ready to share with the world.

Now that my floor is complete and my furniture in place I am ready for holiday gatherings.

And additional thought

The hardest part of this whole process was the waiting. Walking around on subflooring for months was frustrating and embarrassing. As a writer, the hardest part of novel creation is the edit and rewrite stage. The initial story and the final product are the most fun. Somewhere during the process discouragement sets in. That’s when I seek out others to remind me the finish line is just over the next hill of edits. By the time we got to the stain and varnish stage, I was more than ready for the final reveal. Don’t miss a step in the process and you’ll love the final result.

What is the hardest part of the writing process for you? What is your favorite part?

 

Suspense Author Leann Sain shares her journey and her latest release

Today I welcome suspense author Leanna Sian to talk about her newest release Hush. Her writing journey intrigued me. I’ll let Leann tell you.

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. My mother told me I was constantly making tiny books with illustrations. That carried over into adulthood. I was an art major in college with an English minor…the best of both worlds: drawing pictures and writing. But I’d never written a novel, never dreamed there was one inside of me. But that all changed on Halloween, fifteen years ago, and it was all because of a gate.

We were at a friend’s farmhouse for a Halloween party and after dinner we hiked out a gravel road to a spooky cemetery nearby. On the way back, my flashlight glanced over to the right, landing on an old wooden gate. Yes, this was a farm, so a gate shouldn’t be a shock. They sort of go hand in hand. But this one didn’t have a fence attached. It was just a gate, sitting at the edge of a pasture. It struck me as so unusual that I asked my friend, “Lisa, why is there a gate with no fence?”

“I don’t know,” she answered. “It was there when we bought the place.”

“Dum, dum, dummmm,” I replied in my spookiest voice. “The gate to nowhere…”

She laughed. “Sounds like the name of book.”

“Yeah, it does, doesn’t it?”

“Why don’t you write it?”

“Maybe I will.”

That conversation marks the beginning of my novel-writing life, resulting in the trilogy, Gate to Nowhere, Return to Nowhere, and Magnolia Blossoms. Hush is my seventh novel, its sequel is almost finished and I have two more manuscripts completed. And the ideas keep coming. It’s like a cork has been pulled from a bottle and stories keep glugging out. As it stands now, I’ll have to live forever to get them all written.

 

What’s your latest writing project?

My latest book is entitled, Hush. It’s a suspense novel set in the north Florida coastal town of Fernandina Beach. A serial killer is using the verses of the lullaby, “Hush, little baby” as a blueprint for murdering young women. My main character, Lacey Campbell, dreams the murders before they happen, but only in bits and pieces, not enough clues to be able to stop the crimes before they happen. Detective Ford Jamison is called in to help the local police and he soon has a working theory: the killer is targeting women who look remarkably like Lacey. This knowledge doesn’t slow the killings, and now Lacey is afraid to fall asleep because the next face she sees in her dreams might be her own.  Time is running out. Can they stop the killer before he reaches the end of the lullaby?

How do you research for your book?

If I can, I like to visit the setting…get a good feel for the place, take lots of photographs, and do tons of online research. I strive to make any history in the book completely accurate; same with street names, directions, landmarks, etc.… It’s important to me that everything is correct. Yes, it’s a fictional story, but the setting is real.

What inspired you to write your book?

The idea of a serial killer using the lullaby as his blueprint had been knocking around in my brain for a while, but I didn’t start writing the story until my mother really started going downhill with her Alzheimer’s disease. Watching my mother struggle through the final stages of this disease was awful. There was a lot of anger and frustration, as well as the sadness of watching the amazing woman who was Pattie Hewitt, disappear. Alzheimer’s isn’t just a death sentence. It’s the worst kind of death. The disease slowly steals away all that makes a person who they are, leaving an empty shell. First it takes memories, and if that isn’t enough, it steals abilities, like dressing yourself, brushing your teeth, speech, and even the basic ability to swallow. By the end, you’re praying for God to take them home.

I used writing Hush as therapy, a way to release those negative emotions. I made Lacey’s mom have Alzheimer’s, which was a mean thing to do, but it allowed me to weave some of the things my mom said and did right into the story. It helped me to have that small element of control at a time when everything else seemed out of control. I dedicated the book to her, but wanted to do more, so I’m donating my book royalties to Alzheimer’s research in hopes that they’ll find a cure for this terrible disease and that others won’t have to go through what my family did.

 

My father died of this horrible disease. I can so relate to your need to get the negative out.

 

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

John 16:33. “These things have I spoken unto you that in me you might have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.”

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

Start writing sooner. Great advice.

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

My husband is my number one fan and best critic. He always points out things that I never see. Maybe it’s the way a man’s mind works, but I depend on his input.

I’m also in two different writer’s groups. I think it’s important to have several pairs of good eyes on my work to help me polish it into the best that it can be.

I love to hear about supportive spouses. I think men do have a different view and it does help. My hubby is a great support too.

 

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

I love the magical realism of Sarah Addison Allen, Mary Kay Andrews’ quirky, laugh-out-loud books, Jan Karon’s Mitford books, and Sue Grafton’s alphabet mysteries. It makes me sad that she didn’t get to give us the “Z” book before she died.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

There’s a little one-room cabin up in Maggie Valley, NC  where I’ve been going for a week at a time, by myself, for years. It’s isolated, quiet and magical. The words just FLOW when I’m there. Although I can write almost anywhere, I’ve found that the “magic” doesn’t kick in until I’m somewhere alone and isolated, with no distractions. That’s not easy to find at home. There’s always something that needs to be done.

How wonderful to have such an isolated place to get the work done. I’m envious. Thanks so much for joining me today. I found the story more than interesting. Here is a link to my review. It kept me from working on my own novel I was so intrigued.  I love the cover. Click here to order.

Back cover copy

Hush – by Leanna Sain

She dreams a murder before it happens.

A young woman is strangled while her killer sings the words from the lullaby “Hush, Little Baby.”

Lacey Campbell’s life is full, but not idyllic. As head chef for a chic restaurant and primary caregiver to a mother with Alzheimer’s, she doesn’t have time for the nightmare and at first she tries to deny it. But the next day, she discovers it’s a disturbing reality. When she dreams the second heinous murder she knows it’s time to tell the police.

Detective Ford Jamison is called back to the little coastal town to help with the case and soon notices an alarming trend: the killer is using the lullaby as a “blueprint” to target women who resemble Lacey. This doesn’t slow the killings and now Lacey is afraid to fall asleep at night because the next face she sees in her dream might be her own.

As a hurricane churns ever closer to the little coastal town, danger and suspicion spin out of control. Time is running out. Can they stop the killer before the last verse of the lullaby?

 

More about Leanna Sain:

North Carolina author, Leanna Sain, earned her BA from the University of South Carolina, before moving back to mountains of  NC. Her Southern suspense or “GRIT-lit,” showcases her plot-driven method that successfully rolls elements of best-selling authors Mary Kay Andrews, Nicholas Sparks, and Jan Karon all together, making it her own. Her writing accolades include: Foreword Magazine’s Book-of-the-Year; nominations for the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award and the Global Ebook Award; and the Clark Cox Historical Fiction Award from the NC Society of Historians for her time travel trilogy (Gate to Nowhere; Return to Nowhere; Magnolia Blossoms.) She loves leading discussion groups and book clubs. For more information or to contact her, visit: www.LeannaSain.com

 

Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hush-Leanna-Sain/dp/1645262502/ref=sr_1_1?

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Leannasbooks

Twitter: https://LeannaSain@Leannasbooks

Website and blog: http://leannasain.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/LeannaSain

 

 

Tips for polishing your manuscript for submission

Again, today I will share a few things I took away from the Serious Writer Boot Camp I attended last month. Imagine you’ve finished your draft of your story and now you need to go back over it, polishing it to a fine shine. Editors will always find something that needs to change, it’s what publishers pay them for. 😊 But there are things that can get your manuscripts rejected out of hand. We all know to catch all typos and grammar errors. No matter how good the story, no editor will consider it worth their time to fix those. There are several things you can do beyond running the spell/grammar check on your word document. Read it out loud. I like to use a read-aloud app. Word has it in the review tab. A monotone voice reads to you and it’s amazing the errors you can hear.  Find a friend or family member to proofread for grammar and spelling. Fresh eyes find what you miss. After that is done, it is still not ready to send to a publisher.

 

 

Try the Look Method

Use the zoom button in Word and zoom out to view a whole chapter at once. ( Each version of Word has it in a different place. I won’t give instructions here.) Scroll through your chapter pages and look at the first word in each paragraph, does the same word appear often? Change some of those opening lines. Then do the same with each paragraph. How many times does a sentence begin with the same word?  Fix those sentences. When you do, you’ll be surprised how much stronger the paragraph becomes.

Boot “as” out of your manuscript

Eliminate “as” in your manuscript. Most of the time what you are describing is better said as two sentences.

Example: Clara worked on her sewing as the sunset, making it hard to see her stretches.

Instead: The sunset over the horizon. Clara strained to see the sewing in her hand in the fading light.

My example could still be improved upon. I hope you get the idea. It was recommended to remove 95% of them from your book. That’s a lot of “as”.

No “was”

Limit the use of was, and its tenses. In dialog it’s fine.

“I was with her.”

But find more creative ways to describe something without using was. Sometimes was is fine. But too many screams amateur writing. Also eliminate it, that, there, they especially preceding was.

It was a terrible day.

That was unexpected.

They were all together.

Can you improve on these sentences?

Just do away with overused words

Is there a word you use a lot? Just is my bugaboo. So, I use the find tab and it highlights just in my manuscript. Often a sentence is fine without it.

I just want to say.

I want to say.

Just leave me alone.

Leave me alone.

Just who do you think you are?

Who do you think you are?

I know these are dull sentences, but I think you get my drift.

 

You may have lots of grinning, teasing, chuckling going on that becomes distracting to the reader.  My suggestion is to grab a thesaurus or find one online to change up your wording.

 

Hope you found these helpful. Rather than overwhelm you, I’ll share a few more tips in my next post.

 

Share some of your best practice in polishing manuscripts in the comments.

 

Tips for choosing the best social media platform to sell your books

I attended a Serious Writer’s retreat two weeks ago with speakers Cyle Young and Michelle Medlock Adams. It was chockful of helpful information.  I want to share with you a few tidbits I learned over the next few posts. Today I’ll mention social media and genre. Deciding which social media platforms to be on is so confusion. Someone will say all of them, while others say pick one and do it well. I learned a few tips to help me focus. Genre and your target audience play a big part.

LinkedIn is for those looking for freelance work. Many corporations have websites and need bloggers. There are people looking for ghost writers and you can find experts on subjects for any article assignments you may have. If you write fiction it’s a good place to get writing assignments that pay well to supplement your income.

Facebook If you write women’s fiction, children’s books and even things that appeal to men focus your time here. Statistically, women buy the most books. Moms and grandmothers buy the majority of books for children through middle school.  They not only buy for their children, grandchildren but their husbands as well.  Non-fiction books on a variety of subjects can be promoted here too. For the same reason, women make most book purchases. You want to be where people are more likely to spend money.

Twitter is considered the best place to meet editors, publishers and other authors. Also, if this is your favorite social media and you have lots of followers, this can work for promoting your books. I’ve heard of authors selling a large quantity of books by having a large twitter following.

Instagram is for YA authors because young people aren’t on Facebook, they consider it their parent’s social media.  YA readers are active on this site. YA authors have a better chance to find followers and promote their books on Instagram. Don’t forget Instagram is a picture, video driven media. Memes are big on this platform. There are tutorials with tips to promote on this media. Google them.

Pinterest is a great place to promote cookbooks, craft books and any do-it-yourself books. How many cool ideas have you found when you’re remodeling or searching for a new recipe? This leads to sales as you offer fun pics and videos around your books.  Building character boards for your fiction is a nice way to introduce your book to the world. You can link to your sales platform. It’s a nice addition for fiction, but it’s not the premiere spot for sales.

Not everyone will agree with these suggestions because you may have found your sales niche in a platform other than those recommend above for your genre. These guidelines will help you not waste time on media that won’t find the audience you need.  The larger your followers, the larger your platform for sales.

Remember the 1 in 6 rule. Post one buy my book post for every six posts on social media. The other five should be memes, photos and stuff that interest you even other authors books. Then you are not beating your followers to death with a sales pitch.

Hope you found these tips helpful.

What social media has worked best for you?

 

 

 

Addicted to Books and Unashamed

I’m addicted to reading and unashamed. October is National Read-a-Book Month. That makes me sad. Reading only one book. It should be read lots of books. My healthy addiction has expanded my mind and relaxed me at the end of a hectic day.

Books spark the imagination in ways movies and video games never can.

 

An author’s superpower should be reading. Not just for enjoyment. Grab a book in a genre that’s trending or craft books to expand your knowledge of writng and the publishing world. And the research you find in books will fuel your writing superpower.

 

From a reader’s perspective we savor words, whether it’s a wonderful quote or a great turn of a phrase. Books transport the reader to places they’ve never been before.

 

I enjoy the history channel and documentaries, but nothing compares to reading the historical tomes and biographies to glean the knowledge for myself.

I believe the adage: the book is always better than the movie.

Reading touches the creative part of the brain forcing it to imagine what a character looks like or a setting based on the description.  Ever see the movie version of a book and be disappointed in who plays your favorite character?

 

Imaginations that are feed and nurtured through reading produce great inventions, a desire to explore new frontiers, and best-selling novels.

 

From my reading addiction point of view everyone should read at least one book a month. And writers should read at least one a week. Stimulating our brains with the written word and opening our mind’s eye to new concepts and perspectives whether we read, non-fiction or fiction, fantasy or biographies we will bring something new to our lives that we would have missed if we’d not journeyed through the pages of a book.

 

Have you ever read a biography that gave you a new insight into the time period of the historical character, something you didn’t learn in school? Have you ever enjoyed a classic novel, poetry or even Shakespeare, free of tests and analysis into the psyche of the author? How about curling up under a blanket and be whisk away to another time or a new universe? An author’s ability to make me feel a part of the story gives me joy.

Do you see now in my ramblings why I feel my addiction to reading has value and National Read-a-Book month should be changed to Read-a lot-of-Books month.

How about you are you an addict too?

What is your favorite kind of book to read?

 

Two of my favorite new authors and why I love them

They say it’s important to read best-sellers and study their work to see how they did it. “They” can often miss some great gems in the leasser known authors. As I said before, I read alot. I love stories, I love learning things and when they can be combined in wonderful novels I’m especially blessed. I write historical romance and I reading how other historicla authors create their worlds teaches me things even if the author isn’t on the NYT best seller list. Below are four books I read over the last few months that really resinated with me. One is a series by Naomi Musch and the other is by Denise Weimer. Both excellent historical writers with other wonderful books available.

The Echoes of Heart series takes place in the first part of the twentieth century, a time less written about. Here are hNaomi Musch’s three books and my reviews of them.

Echoes of The Heart Book # 1 The Deepest Sigh by Naomi Musch

Seventeen year old Marilla Eckert has been in love with Langdon Prescott, her family’s hired hand, since she was fourteen years old. Determined to win him, she’s blissfully unaware of the secret passion he feels for her older sister Delia. But when Delia weds a longtime beau, Lang settles for Marilla and marries her anyway, despite his continued longing and intent to someday win her sister away from her husband. It isn’t long before Marilla realizes where Lang’s devotion truly lies, yet she presses on, giving everything she has to offer, convinced she can still gain his love.

Then America steps into the Great War. The men are sent a world away to fight, and Marilla’s cares, coupled with the lack of her husband’s favor, finally wear her thin. When heartache and disaster strike on every front, and Marilla’s hour of need leads her elsewhere for comfort, will all of them wind up too broken to ever find their hearts’ true homes?

My review

The setting is Wisconsin dairy country during the time of World War I. It’s the retelling of the Biblical story of Rachel and Leah, but it’s not. I found myself disliking Langdon Prescott right from the start. But that was good, because when he changes for the better I’m cheering. My heart went out to his longsuffering wife Rilla, who loved him from the moment she first lays eyes on him. This historically accurate, well-crafted story was everything I wanted to see despite a few detours before reaching it’s satisfying ending.

Book #2 The Softest Breath

Modern girls seemed always in a hurry. Now one of them has slammed into Jacob Hessman on the street near St. Paul’s Union Depot and boarded his train. He knows her type: flapper-chic in her bobbed hair and stylish dress, so different from the sweet, country-bred kind of girl who once filled his heart.

Gwendolyn Smith’s narrow window of time to escape Hugh Phelps is closing fast. Performing in speakeasies and underground clubs has left her mistrustful of most men, but the big fellow she plows into on her flight to the station seems safe enough to attach herself to for short-term protection.

Friendship unfolds, but Gwen hides behind lies, wishing she might deserve such a God-fearing man as Jacob, and Jacob’s pursuit of a perfect wife conflicts with his mounting concern for Gwen. Meanwhile, Hugh is catching up. For Jacob and Gwen, trapped in their pasts and misconceptions, the time for truth and love is running out.

My review

Jacob Hessman, the longsuffering friend of Marilla in The Deepest Sigh get his happily ever after. I was fond of Jacob and his desire to always do the right thing. And that conviction presents all sorts of problems when he determines to help the mysterious Gwen Smith. Loved the characters. The prohibition era setting made it so interesting. Naomi Much captures the timeframe and keeps you there through the whole story. I enjoyed the twists and turns the plot takes before the two are truly ready to tie the knot.

 

Book #3 The Brightest Hope

Five years after the Great War…Holly Allen is a well-adjusted war widow with a knack for running the family press. She’s over the days of waiting for a white knight to ride in and sweep her away from her cares. Besides, if Hugh Phelps is a knight, he’s certainly a black one—with his prison record, personal demons, and the ghosts of war that haunt him. When Holly hires Hugh, despite her reservations, it isn’t long before she sees the man he could really be, and as Hugh finds his niche at Allen’s Printing, he finds his lady boss equally appealing. Despite the attraction, however, Holly won’t let herself fall for a faithless man, and Hugh isn’t on gracious terms with God. Then, just when new beginnings seem possible, old heartaches from the war come calling. Now it might only be in letting go of everything dear that they both discover what real love is.

 

My Review

I’ll admit I was surprised when Huge Phelps, the villian, from The Softest Breath becomes the hero in this story. His reformation is not quite complete until he truly learns what sacrificial love is as he finds himself falling for Holly Allen. The surprise in this plot left me saying “oh no!” and turning the pages to see how it would all work out. A satisfying ending not only to this story but the Echoes of the Heart series.

 

Denise Weimer’s The Witness Tree

Past betrayal has turned John Kliest’s passion to his work as a builder and surveyor in the Moravian town of Salem, North Carolina. Now, to satisfy the elders’ edict and fulfill his mission in Cherokee Territory, he needs a bride. But the one woman qualified to record the Cherokee language longs for a future with his younger brother.

Clarissa Vogler’s dream of a life with Daniel Kliest is shattered when she is chosen by lot to marry his older brother and venture into the uncharted frontier. Can she learn to love this stoic man who is now her husband? Her survival hinges on being able to trust him—but they both harbor secrets.

 

 

My review

Denise Weimer brought the Moravian culture from the early 1800s to life for me. I learned so much about the time period while following the Kleists into the wilderness of Georgia and the Cherokee nation. Wonderful surprises and plot twists. The sprinkling of German and Cherokee words throughout the story added to the realism. Following the struggles of the arranged marriage of John and Clarissa kept me turning the pages. Many actual historical figure mingled into the story added the realism that made this story truly engaging.

My thoughts on Naomi Musch and Denise Weimer

Naomi Musch

Both of these authors captured the time periods beautifully. Showing the culture and the mind set of those from history. I learned a great deal as a lover of history and a writer of Historical Romance. And as a reader getting swept away into another time is absolutely the best experience ever.

Denise Weimer

 

 

Have you discovered any awesome authors that aren’t on the NYT Best-Sellers list that you love?  Share in the comments.

Researching to Write a Contemporary vs a Historical Romance

Today, Denise Weimer returns to share some helpful insight into research. She writes in both historical and contemporary romance which means taking a different track to gather background nformation for each genre. Take it away Denise.

 

Hi, readers! I’m delighted to be visiting on Cindy’s blog, sharing about my TWO novels that release this month through Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, one a contemporary with Candlelight Romance imprint, and one a historical with Smitten Historical Romance imprint.

 

Fall Flip, Candlelight contemporary romance, set in the river town of Augusta, GA

The tragic death of Shelby Dodson’s husband—her partner in a successful Home Network house flipping business—stole love, status, and career. Now a bungalow redesign thrusts Shelby into the company of a new contractor. Scott Matthews remembers high-and-mighty Shelby from high school, and her prissy, contemporary style goes against his down-to-earth grain. When the house reveals a mystery, will its dark secrets—and their own mistakes—cost a second chance at love? https://www.amazon.com/dp/1645261883/

The Witness Tree, Smitten historical romance, set in Salem, NC, and Cherokee Indian Territory (now NW GA)

Past betrayal has turned John Kliest’s passion to his work as a builder and surveyor in the Moravian town of Salem, North Carolina. Now, to satisfy the elders’ edict and fulfill his mission in Cherokee Territory, he needs a bride. But the one woman qualified to record the Cherokee language longs for a future with his younger brother.

Clarissa Vogler’s dream of a life with Daniel Kliest is shattered when she is chosen by lot to marry his older brother and venture into the uncharted frontier. Can she learn to love this stoic man who is now her husband? Her survival hinges on being able to trust him—but they both harbor secrets. (https://www.amazon.com/Witness-Tree-gain-break-heart/dp/1645260623/)

 

As you can imagine, researching for these stories looked very different.

 

For a contemporary romance:

  • My research emphasis falls heavily on the careers of the characters or things that happen during the course of the story, like home renovation. Sometimes I interview experts or visit job sites.
  • A trip to the setting proves imperative. Where do the locals eat? What smells and sounds predominate? How do the people talk? And what do the neighborhoods look like? When researching for Fall Flip, I’d picked out online a specific historical neighborhood to be the upscale spot where the parents live, only to discover in person that the neighborhood had fallen into disrepair.

 

For a historical romance:

  • I tend to start with the real history, poring over web sites, books, and microfilm, funneling pertinent facts into a timeline. From what really happened in history, I salvage bits and pieces into my fictional plot. I need to know what’s realistic before I can begin to picture the story.
  • I add to that timeline maps that help me figure distances, terrain, and travel time.
  • And I add portraits and drawings of real historical figures, fashion plates, and buildings. And yes, sometimes the handsome actor who helps me picture my hero just right.
  • A visit to the location can be extremely helpful, though it’s important to remember that time may have significantly changed the landscape. Even with a building, like Chief James Vann’s house in The Witness Tree, the elaborate interior trim-work was only added after my story by the chief’s son. You can’t assume anything. The other people in my tour group were probably rolling their eyes behind my back at my many questions by the time we reached the detached kitchen. LOL!
  • I’ve also been known to attend or participate in the select living history event. Great for sparking sensory detail.

Represented by Hartline Literary Agency, Denise Weimer holds a journalism degree with a minor in history from Asbury University. She is the managing editor of Smitten Historical Romance and Heritage Beacon Historical Fiction (imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas) and the author of The Georgia Gold Series, The Restoration Trilogy, and a number of novellas, including Across Three Autumns of Barbour’s Colonial Backcountry Brides Collection. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses! Connect with Denise here:

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