Today I am thrilled to have as my guest blogger, author Jean M. Grant. She is a fellow author writing for The Wild Rose Press and has written a novella for the Deerbourne Inn Series titled Soul of the Storm. Seeing how she goes about writing her books is a learning experience for me.
Jean’s background is in science and she draws from her interests in history, nature, and her family for inspiration. She writes historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction. She also writes articles for family-oriented travel magazines. When she’s not writing or chasing children, she enjoys tending to her flower gardens, hiking, and doing just about anything in the outdoors.
Soul of the Storm – Will love help her summit one more peak?
Charlotte MacGregor lost the thrill of conquering mountains five years ago when her sister disappeared on a hiking adventure without her. Still guilt-ridden, Charlotte heads for a vacation to rustic Vermont with a friend—where she’s surrounded by reminders of her devastating loss and plagued with unanswered questions.
Matiu Christiansen is an outdoors buff. He works multiple jobs to save for his dream of owning an outfitter in New Zealand. He’s never quite felt at home in the United States and he yearns for his Maori roots, but his attraction to Charlotte puts a kink in his plans to move home later this year.
Thrown together by coincidence, Charlotte and Matiu form a kindred bond through their shared love of the outdoors. Can Charlotte surmount her demons to assist Matiu on a rescue when a late-season snowstorm hits? And can Matiu help Charlotte heal from the pain of the past?
She went to feel her ring on her finger with her thumb…but the ring wasn’t there. That old habit would not die even years later.
A dog bark intruded. The man crossed to the back door. “Reka, sweet girl, take your nap. Only a few hours here and then home, okay?” He spoke to her like a father to a toddler. The dog barked again. “A swim and walk this morning weren’t enough for you?”
He approached the dog, petted it, and whispered affections.
Charlotte made a soundless “Aww” and kept perusing.
The man returned, nearer. Residual sweat traced his brow. He pointed to a selection of books in the middle. “These are the best. Depends on what you’re looking for. Honest reviews or glorified fantasies?”
“Honest reviews, always.”
He stroked a hand through his neck-length black hair, the longer top layer falling over his forehead. He squatted and withdrew a few books from the lower shelf. “You could go with the popular or famous names, sure, but I like these authors.” He handed her one.
A book on South America sat in her hands. She muttered, “Thanks. Don’t need that one.”
“Oh, already been there, eh? All good, all good.” He took it and shoved it back on the shelf. “Where do your dreams lie then?”
She swallowed. No, I wasn’t there in that way. I was supposed to have been there. Five years ago. Instead she said, “Well, Vermont for now.”
“You’re in luck. I’m from Willow Springs.”
Jean loves settings and compared Vermont to New Zealand.
Ten Signatures of Vermont:
- Green Mountains
- Covered bridges
- “Mud Season”
- Farms & meadows
- Cheese, ice cream (“cremees”), and chocolate
- Rivers and waterfalls
- Rustic small towns
- The Long Trail, a 272-mile hiking trail that goes from North to South across the state
Ten (okay, 15…) Signatures of New Zealand:
- Golden beaches, teal seas, and the city of sails (Auckland)
- Maori culture
- Aspiring mountains (e.g. the Southern Alps/The Remarkables)
- Volcanic and geothermal wonderland
- Friendly Kiwis (the folk) and shy kiwis (the birds)
- Nothing scary that can eat you
- Adventure capital of the world (Queenstown)
- Cool lingo and dialect
- Green rolling hills (my favorite)
A few bonus signatures:
- Pristine, clean wilderness
- Southern lights
- Glacier hiking
How does she prepare for writing a book?
For Soul of the Storm, I hightailed it north a few hours to the fictional setting of Willow Springs, Vermont. I donned my boots and hiked a trail that’s in the book, explored farms and weaving backroads, walked through the small towns, chatted with townsfolk, and took many visual snapshots of the quiescent region of the Mad River Valley. Also, the hero in the story is from New Zealand, and I was fortunate to visit the “land of the long white cloud” on my honeymoon. I dug into the memory vault for little bits of authenticity, and when needed, I consulted a few authors and readers for cultural accuracy. What do I do when I can’t get to the location in a book? I research. Books, online, or I chat with experts in the region/culture. Setting deserves just as much attention as the characters and plot. Setting IS a character, at least in my books. 🙂
Connect with Jean here:
Check out Jean’s books here:
Pick up a copy of Jean’s books and let her love-of-setting fill you with wonder. Setting is a character and I learned a lot about how to use it.
Thanks, Jean, it was great having you as my guest today.