Thursday, May 31, 2012

Setting the Scene With Winnie Griggs and a Give Away


Love Inspired Historical Author Winnie Griggs  Sets the Scene for her latest release, A Baby Between Them.

Hi!  Thanks for inviting me here today, and it’s especially apt that you should ask me to speak on setting the scene.  Let me explain.

My June release, A Baby Between Them, is a departure for me on a number of fronts.  For one, this is the third book in a three book continuity.  For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is a group of connected stories in which the concept and high level plot lines have been provided by the editors.  The details on how to flesh out the story and make the concept work is left up to the authors.  This was my first time to be invited to participate in such an endeavor and I was  excited and not just a little nervous.  It helped that the other two authors on this project were Cheryl St. John and Renee Ryan - both fabulous authors and good friends.

Anyway, one of the challenges in writing such a story is that the setting and time period is part of the package handed to you.  My previous books, with one exception, have been set in NW Texas or my home state of Louisiana - both settings I’m very familiar with.  And my favorite historical period is the late nineteenth century.  But in the case of this continuity, the setting was the Boston area in July of 1850.  Yikes, I had to get busy doing some serious research.

And in doing this research I came up with some fun little tidbits that I used to not only add ‘local color’ to my story, but to further my plot along as well.  One of the things I discovered is that Massachusetts has an abundant crop of wild blueberries and that they are harvested in mid-summer - perfect for my story.  Not only that, but my heroine, Nora, is an Irish immigrant and has never seen or tasted blueberries before.  Voila - a ready made scene of the hero, Cam, introducing Nora to blueberries.  The berry picking scene I included, in fact, was a key one in growing the early attraction between my hero and heroine.  And since Nora is a skilled baker, this gave me a local product for her to use in her cakes and pies.

Another factor in this setting was that it was a coastal town.  My heroine walks the beach near her cottage whenever she wants to be alone to think.  It turns out that  two of the most emotional scenes in the story take place on that beach.  And it doesn’t serve as just backdrop, the setting is woven into those scenes in a very integral way, so that the scenes themselves would be different if they were set anywhere else.

One other thing I do for nearly every book, regardless of local and time period is create a town map for myself.  I don’t draw it to scale and I don’t include each and every street and building, but I do a general layout with the buildings and landmarks that will play prominently in my story.  This allows me to see at a glance where these places are in relation to each other and keeps me from having ‘roving landmark syndrome’ in my stories.

So there you have it - some of the high points along my path to properly set the scene for  A Baby Between Them.  And if I’ve sufficiently piqued your interest, I’m giving away a copy of the book to one of today’s commenters at The Pink Heart Society.

Find out more about Winnie and her books at www.winniegriggs.com

Home For Thanksgiving, Oct. 2011
A Baby Between Them, June 2012
Handpicked Husband, Sept 2012

17 comments:

  1. Blueberries & beaches - two of my favourite summer things! Did you manage to convince your publishers to pay for a research trip to Boston - ha ha.

    Thank you for sharing your map - and what a great idea. I (finally!!) figured out I needed to create a floor plan of a house that featured prominently in a book so that I could see where everyone was at any given point. I spent happy hours playing around with free floor plan design programmes online (erm, read: 'procrastinating') but drew one with pen & ruler & it worked just fine.

    Thanks for a super post. Louise

    (p.s. please exclude me from your draw as I've recently won a great book & I'd like to share the fun with others.)

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  2. The blueberry scene sounds lovely (as does your story). I've made blueberryscones once, years ago, and it made me think about those. Perhaps it's time to make them again...

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  3. As I live on an island - I have my pick of beaches which is lovely. I love paddling in the sea with my dog Bob. He's a real water baby! Take care. Caroline x

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  4. Louise - LOL - if only I could have done a research trip, that would have been awesome. And yes, I do floor plans too.

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  5. Jo's Daughter -Ooooh, I've never had blueberry scones but that sounds scrumptuous!! I may have to dig for a recipe

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  6. Caroline - Your dog sounds like a fun companion to have around.

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  7. Wonderful post, Winnie, on the process and "stretch" of a new setting. Sounds like you tied things together well. I too love blueberries (although I live in strawberry country) and I live near the beach...the Pacific, that is. But our trip to Boston and surrounds let us know we definitely want to go back there.

    The book sounds fabulous. I love antho's and Cher and Ryan are good friends, too. Can't wait to settle down with it. xoxo

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  8. I just started reading Renee Ryan's book, so I'm getting a lovely sneak peek of your heroine, Nora. I'm looking forward to more of her and the baby, it sounds like her story will be an ideal warm weather read.

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  9. It's a great story, Winnie, and you did an impressive job with the characters.

    xoxo

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  10. Winnie,

    I love your post today...The cover of your book is just beautiful.....Hope to win a copy

    Melinda

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  11. Winnie,

    I love your post today...The cover of your book is just beautiful.....Hope to win a copy

    Melinda

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  12. Tanya - thanks! And I've always thought living near the beach would be very cool!

    Summer, so glad you're enjoying the books in this series - it was such fun to write!!

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  13. Cheryl - right back atcha! You did a fabulous job kicking off this continuity with your book The Wedding Journey!

    Melinda - glad you like the cover - LIH always does a fabulous job, but I think they really outdid themselves with all three of these books

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  14. haha! love your mapping that " keeps me from having ‘roving landmark syndrome’ in my stories."
    and us readers from getting lost :))
    well done ! enjoyable post :)
    {and ty for the generosity !}

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  15. I wonder if you include your maps as a visual? I do love books that come with maps. They are usually massive historical tomes, but nonetheless.

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  16. Faith and Marybelle - glad you enjoyed the map. My publisher doesn't really do maps, but I have been thinking about including them on my website. What do you think - would readers enjoy seeing something like that??

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    1. I would!! I know that. There is something rather wonderful about maps. They tell their own story.

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