World Building

Building a world for your story isn’t always filled with spacecraft and foreign planets. I love creating the place where my characters can thrive, grow, love, and heal.

What storyworld do YOU like to get lost in?


Original Post published 8/19/2015

firstclassdining Currently, I’ve been reading about creating a ‘story world’ and what’s involved in the intricate design of a world where readers can lose themselves in a story.

It may sound fairly straight-forward and simple, but it’s really quite complex. Readers need to feel the cohesiveness of feeling like they are really ‘there’ – in your story, during that time period. This not only requires crafting, but research too.

The most well-loved, memorable, and meaningful stories had a distinct time and place which couldn’t have occurred as effectively anywhere else. For example, Charles Dickens’ brilliant stories cannot be separated from London. I can’t imagine Frodo living anywhere else, except the Shire and Middle Earth.

071In A Twist of Faith, I’ve created the town of Ransom, Virginia – a small community that reminds me a lot of the Blue Ridge Mountain town in which I grew up: Small population, close-knit families, quaint downtown, and amazing scenic views. I want readers to walk the streets of Ransom and Mitchells’ Crossroads as they journey along with the characters.

TheThornbearer 500x750 (1)In my historical series, Penned in Time, I’ve tried to recreate the feel of the World War I era. The uncertainty, the change and energy… the small English villages, manor houses, and clothing.

All of those things make a storyworld.

Developing a strong story world helps readers take a trip and never leave their chair.

It gives me a great sense of joy and awe to think that, because of my Christian perspective, the stories and novels I write might give a sense of hope to those who read them. Through the time, place, characters, dialogue, and exposition – readers will sense the beautiful truth of hope in the Lord, no matter the circumstances. What a wonderful goal for which to aspire!

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Swoony Saturdays – Reese Mitchell

Welcome! Welcome!

Swoony Saturdays are your opportunity to be introduced to a book hero who fits high quality hero characteristics. (okay, so he just makes us weak in the knees for all kinds of reasons, but you get the point)

The photos involved are chosen as the most representative of the heroes featured, so IF they look like someone you’ve seen before, that’s almost entirely accidental.

Reese Mitchell

 

Hugh Jackman: From OKLAHOMA! to Wolverine, the Boy from Oz can do it all.:
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Who? Reese Mitchell

Where can we find this dreamboat? A Twist of Faith by Pepper Basham (released April, 2016)

Personality summary: Reese is a good-hearted country boy who has been deeply wounded in the past and is now raising his two kids on his own. His mildly gruff exterior houses a quick mind, warm sense of humor, tender-heart, and forthrightness. Despite his wounds and his own avoidance of romance, he bears the spirit of a nurturer, and Dr. Adelina Roseland proves a woman in need of a patient pursuit. A big Appalachian family invades his life and holds him close with their idiosyncrasies and love, which is another aspect that not only helps Reese seek a relationship with the “citified” loner, but it is also a catalyst for keeping his opinions balanced when everything falls apart. He’s faithful—and when his focus is set on Dee, well, he’ll do about anything to sweep her off her feet and right into his arms.

What makes us swoon?A Twist fo Faith

Fire lighting proficiency (if you’ve read the book, you understand. Thank you, Beth Erin!)

He’s a great daddy. Loves his kids. And let’s face it! Guys with their little girls or babies? Exponential swoon factor!!

Smart – always a bonus

Willing to sacrifice his pride to give his lady-love a swoony moment

As mentioned by ladies from my Street Team:

Sexy mountain man accent

Sexy mountain man muscles

Sexy mountain man sense of humor

He takes care of his family

He’s the right amount of ornery and flirty

Hugh Jackman - as Reese Mitchell:
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Kissing level of such swooniness: Reese is a solid #4 kisser, a smoldering sort of fire that causes the happy recipient to inwardly glow for hours later.

Basic hero type: Reese has been a tough one to place on the ‘hero’ scale. He’s a solid mix between Knightley, Darcy, Wentworth…and even Mr. Tilney. He can brood, when brooding is warranted, but for the most part he’s easy going. He has a fierce protectiveness about him and dedication to his family, but a quick sense of humor too. He’s hardworking, but not to the neglect of his family…or a few flirty moments.

How can I meet this swoony mister? A Twist of Faith is available on Amazon, B&N,  and Christian Book Distributors.

Kissing Levels & Hero Types

Upcoming Writerly News

penned-in-time

2016 proved a pretty busy writing year for me.

In February, the second book in the Penned in Time series, The Thorn Keeatwistoffaith-500x750_v2finalper, hit the shelves. In April, my first contemporary romance novel, A Twist of Faith, made its debut to kick-off the Mitchell’s Crossroads series, and my historical romance series came to a end (close to home) with the release of The Thorn Healer in December.

What’s on the horizon for 2017?

Well, it looks like it’s going to be a contemporary romance year for me!

In March, my first novella arrives as a compilation with a lot of wonderful authors. It’s romantic (because….why would I write anything else 😉 AND comedic. The compilation is entitled Love at First Laugh and my Jane Austen inspired novella is called Second Impressions. (Bonus points if you know why that title has a double meaning).

15941082_10211748002556247_3298997609762240397_nIn April, my favorite book I’ve written (to date) releases. Just the Way You Are is the first book in A Pleasant Gap Romance series. This is a lighter and much more comedic-styled book that takes all the things I love most and pushes them together in one story 🙂 I’ll be posting more about it throughout the weeks leading up to release, which is April 6th!!! If you’re fond of England, the Blue Ridge Mountains, swoony heroes, hysterical heroines, adorable children, crazy families, a teeny bit of matchmaking, AND a historical mystery…well, this book is for you 🙂  Oh, and if you like romantic comedies like those with Meg Ryan, Sandra Bullock, or Amy Adams…well, that sweet-spot of pixie dust has been reserved for this kind of story! Funny, romantic, and sprinkled with just a little bit of magic. 

COVER REVEAL is on Valentine’s Day!! 

And the long-anticipated second book to the Mitchell’s Crossroads series arrives in November. Charming the Troublemaker takes readers right back into Mitchell’s Crossroads where an unlikely hero and a reluctant heroine must work together to save a tutoring clinic. Sparks fly all over the place with these two. He’s a flirt. She hates flirts.  Makes for some funny conflict and great banter.

History Tidbits – The Thorn Healer

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click on photo for reference

I love history – particularly certain time-periods. What about you?

 

Of course, there are certain eras I don’t care to read-up on as much, but as a whole  I really enjoy the discovery true events and places in the past.

As I researched for The Thorn Healer, it was amazing to visit the places that showed up in my book.

Today I’m going to introduce you to The Kenilworth Inn – but in The Thorn Healer (and in 1918) it was called U.S. General Hospital # 12 – a facility taken img_4128over by the army to be used as a hospital.

Before the owner of The Kenilworth Inn could use it for its designed purpose, the army swopped into Asheville with the distinct need of a convalescence hospital for soldiers, (while their primary hospital was being constructed in nearby Azalea). In 1918 the army opened the hospital to treat wounde
d soldiers, particularly those suffering from tuberculosis.

Biltmore Hospital, as it was locally called, shows up in The Thorn Healer as the place our hero, August Reinhold, is transferred after the German internees leave Hot Spring
s. It was a beautiful facility, still is – with a indoor bowling alley vimg_4137ery similar to the one at the nearby Biltmore Estate.
Though the hotel saw some great days after the army returned it to its owner, the stock market crash of 1929 killed the owner’s dreams for the Inn and the facility began a slow shift from one owner to another until present day (again, used as a military hospital in WW2)

Now the building is an apartment building complex, but the beauty of the ‘Inn’ is still apparent.

img_4138August Reinhold, a other german internees like him, would have stepped down this very rug in the lobby of Kenilworth or sat by the fire and chatted here.

So….do you enjoy reading books where you can actually visit the places in the story?

Thanks to the lovely manager at The Kenilworth Inn Apartments who took me on a tour of the historical building. 

Release Day!! Book Birthday #4

the-thorn-healer-finalWow! It’s been a crazy year, but after lots of hard work and some brainstorming help from my super duper brainstorming team and agent, Julie Gwinn – we have a new book baby!!

Yes! Today, the third book in the Penned in Time series is here!

This book is a little different than its two predecessors. Here are a few differences:

  1. The Thorn Bearer used both the Blue Ridge Mountains and England for settings. The Thorn Keeper used England. The Thorn Healer takes place completely in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
  2. The Thorn Bearer (TTB) and The Thorn Keeper (TTK) are best read together, but The Thorn Healer (TTH) can stand alone – although you might enjoy it more if yousee how the heroine, Jessica, changes from book one to book three.
  3. Though The Thorn Bearer has follows the timeline of the sinking of the Lusitania in its first few chapters and The Thorn Keeper has pinpoint historical events within it, The Thorn Healer follows a close set of historical events surrounding the small mountain town of Hot Springs. 

tth-rt-reviewpromoWhat else to know about The Thorn Healer? It received 4 1/2 stars from Romantic Times and was listed as a Top Pick!! 

So if you’re looking for a good Christmas present for yourself…or someone else, try out this story. It’s even green for Christmas colors 😉

You can purchase it for kindle or paperback at: http://a.co/ifMvDfg

Want to know more? Watch the book trailer here

And join the Blog Tour happening this week and next through Singing Librarian Books!! YAY!

Special shoutout to Carrie Schmidt, Meghan Gorecki, Rachael Wing, Mikal Hermanns, Marisa Deshaies, Rachael Farnsworth Merrit, Judy Bush, and Julie Gwinn!!!

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Creating a Word…Shakespeare-style

imageYou know what happens when you leave a creative mind in a car alone for too long?

Crazy stuff.

Like….creating a word that holds the essence of your brand! YES!

Historic note: It is theorized that playwright William Shakespeare first cited from over 200 to 1500 words! Whether he was the inventor of them or not, we can’t know for sure, but he’s given credit for a BIG bunch of them.

Another historic note you can use on Jeopardy some day: Author John Milton is said to have coined over 600 words still listed in the Oxford Dictionary! WOW!!

Word inventing is cool…especially if it is meaningful to the story or author 🙂

2011-05-14 11_16_52I have channeled my inner Williams Shakespeare/John Milton and created a word that embodies the type books that I usually write.

Are you ready for it? It’s the FIRST time anyone has EVER seen it in cyberspace. (except a very small group of individuals with whom I shared it first to make sure I wasn’t going completly off my rocker…or if I WAS going completely off my rocker, they were rocking right along with me. So I’m not alone 🙂

And…my agent approved…which means she’s off her rocker too – OR – she knows when to encourage a good branding strategy 😉

This new word embodies THREE key elements of my stories:

  1. Those of you who follow my writing know that I’m an Appalachian girl. The Blue Ridge Mountains are my home and such a part of my heart and stories. So many of my novels have some sort of Blue Ridge Mountain or Appalachian element in them.
  2. You ALSO know that I have an obsess….um….deep interest in all things British. From England to Scotland to Wales and Ireland, I love it – cheers and all. Many of my novels reflect this infatuatio…um…interest by involving a character and/or setting of the UK.
  3. Most of my novels hold some element of culture clashing. Yes, oh yes, I love to pair two different cultures together and watch the story unfold with all of its humor, conflict, and steps-to-understanding. SUCH fun!

day1So, without furthur embellishment from yours truly, here is the word I’ve created 🙂

Britallachian

Yes, you read that right!

I write Britallachian novels.

Woohooo!!! Just so you know, I will begin to use this word freely and probably drop it in the middle of conversations with unashamed and completely biased pride 🙂 (note the fun-loving sarcasm)

Have you ever created a word? Do you have a brand? If you’ve read my novels, do you think the word fits?

Share, oh share!!

The Thorn Healer – Cover Reveal

TTHgraphicYou guys know I love any excuse to party! And today I have a great one!!!

The third installment of the Penned in Time series (my very first series EVER published) has a cover! The Thorn Healer!!

And you all know that I’ll wait to the very end of the post to show the cover, right?….(okay, how many of you scanned down there early? Are you the same ones who read the last page of a book first?) 🙂

Anway, The Penned in Time series has such a special place in my heart because of the time period, the depth of story, and the fact that I survived writing two additional books within a year! The Thorn Healer is also close to my heart because, not only does it touch on some deep spiritual truth and take place in the Blue Ridge Mountains, it has a completely adorable hero! ADORABLE!!!

TTH graphic2August Reinhold!!! YAY!!!

If you’ve been following along with the series, you’ll recognize three main female characters introduced in the first book, The Thorn Bearer: Ashleigh, Catherine, and Jessica.

Each has her own story – and The Thorn Healer is Jessica’s. Ironic that the one who needs healing the most is also a nurse. We’ve seen Jessica throughout each book until finally we get to read her story…and hopefully, she gets to find her happy ending too.

The novel was the hardest of the three to write. I think it might be because Jessica’s personality was the most different from mine than the other three heroines, but I’m not sure. I might have been from exhaustion too 🙂

Releasing three books in a year and writing another within that same year is an incredibly difficult and daunting experience when you also have a day job, a full family, and other responsiblities. But I’m proud of this story of hope and peace.

TTH graphic1The story takes place in the real tow of Hot Springs, NC – a very small place couched by the Blue Ridge Mountains. Unfortunately, the amazing Mountain Park Hotel no longer stands, but remnants of the hotel are still visible on the site – and the hot springs are still in use.

As far as the German internment camp goes, I found most of my information from Jaqueline Painter’s amazing pictorial entitled The German Occupation of Hot Springs. Up until rather recent history no one knew of the camp’s existence because the residents of Hot Springs refused to talk about World War 1 era Germans once World War 2 hit. It became a shameful memory, but Mrs. Painter (a native of Hot Springs) unearthed pictures and stories so that this amazing tale could now come to life in The Thorn Healer.

So…….

Without further ado, here is the most AMAZING cover of the three (in my opinion)

The Thorn Healer, available November 28, 2016

The Thorn Healer Final

And here it is – The Penned in Time series.

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Stirring a Child’s Dream to Life

meandgranny1forwebWords are powerful things – and words forged into encouragement produce remarkable results.

I think that’s why I’ve always wanted to provide positive influences into my kids lives through words. I’m not saying that we don’t have hard conversations, that I don’t lose my temper, or that I fail to use ‘no’ or ‘wrong’ in my vocabulary, I’m simply stating that the power of encouragement soaks deep in children.

Can you think of someone who spoke into your life at an early age? Someone you respected who took the time to help rustle your dreams to life?

I do.

I’ve mentioned before about the influence my Granny Spencer has had on my life and writing. She exuded a gentle charm, kind of like a welcome fire on a chilly night complete with a cup of hot chocolate. Just sitting by her brought a comfort and warmth all the way through your skin to your heart. She had the ability to draw stories out of people and spark your thinker without you even knowing.

When I was almost ten, she bought me a second-hand type writer because she said “A writer needs one.” WRITER. That’s what she called me. She spoke into my dream and breathed another breath of life into it.

movitaWhen I started middle school, I was not only introduced to a new school and new kids, but I met a new teacher. Mrs. Utt. From the first class with her to my last, she encouraged my love for writing by constantly urging me to stretch myself. She believed in me. She told me “I plan to see your books in the bookstore some day.” And another breath of life swelled my little dream.

There are others who, in large quantities or small, breathed into this dream to bring it to life – and it took a lot of breathing, because there were years when all that kept this dream alive was the faith of others and the raw belief that God wanted this dream to come true one day.

But it took a whole lot more than me. It took others taking time to not only to look, but SEE a gift and then use words to give that encouragement power.

Have you done this for a child? Have you had someone in your childhood breathe a dream to life in you?

When Research Inspires Story

biltmoreI have a love-hate relationship with research.

I absolutely adore the beauty, intrigue, and detail good research brings to any story but I’m not a big fan of the massive amount of time it takes to discover those awesome details. I’ve spent hours in search of the name of a certain light fixture because it was an integral part of the story set in the Victorian era or another half hour in the throes of google-search mania to discover what type of fabric composed a certain gown.

Crazy.

However, research can also be dangerously inspiring.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been looking up information for one book only to find the research spanning beyond the framework of the current book and inspiring another one…or two.

Yesterday, after doing a little studying on our local ‘castle’, The Biltmore House, a story began to form between the lines of research. And then…another. A historical and contemporary, one interwoven into another.

Will they be in the same book? I’m not sure, yet. Maybe.

But it looks at employees of the Biltmore House, past and present, and how lives and love can span generations to impact the present.

How about you? Have you ever had a brand new story evolve out of the remnants of your research?

If you’re a reader, what tidbits of history do you enjoy in the books you read?

Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon

1398868933000-SomewhereSafe-onlineIt has been twenty years since Karon introduced us to Mitford, North Carolina, the fictional “small town that takes care of its own.”  With At Home in Mitford (1994), Karon launched a wildly popular series featuring an eclectic quilt of saints and sinners—loveable eccentrics all—which was heralded as groundbreaking for its use of dominant Christian themes and real-life struggles in a fiction series. Now, nearly a decade after publishing the last title in the Mitford Years series, Karon comes home to her extended fictional family.”

TODAY IS RELEASE DAY for Jan Karon’s newest book, Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good and I had the wonderful opportunity to read it. It was such a delight. The same homespun charm, flawed yet faithful characters, and quirky setting bring us back to the place we enjoyed in Mitford. I only had the chance to read the first few books in Jan’s earlier series, so it was a pleasure to pick this novel up and see though the town and idyllic community had stayed so much the same, the growth of the characters and depth of story had only gotten better.

I love how Jan takes so much of the southern culture through the eyes of Father Kavanagh and pits it against Cynthia’s northern upbringing. Their chemistry and relationship is beautiful and fun to watch. And the other characters? Oh my goodness, there were times when I laughed out loud at Vanita, wept over Sadie, snickered at Helene, and just fell in love with the couple whose books have created an entire town – Tim and Cynthia. It was delightful.

So now is your chance to win a copy of this wonderful book to read. Leave a comment today stating one of Jan’s books you’ve enjoyed most? A character you’ve loved? or….a place in the Blue Ridge Mountains you’ve visited or always wanted to visit. Make sure to leave your email address!!

The winner’s name will be randomly chosen.

Come enjoy another stroll down the streets of Mitford – and don’t forget to sip some sweet tea along the way 🙂