Guest Post: Man Oh Man! How Author Marin Thomas Created A Setting For Her Novel

HEApromise 300I was fortunate to read an early copy of The Promise of Forgiveness by Marin Thomas. It’s full of heart, family, and the promise of second chances. It’s her first work of women’s fiction but not her first book. Not by a long shot! Marin has written (sit down now) over 35 romances. When she approached something new, she wanted a special setting. She wanted it to be different from what readers were accustomed to—and different from what her characters expected as well. 

Only an author as skilled as Marin could make a dusty, rough, Oklahoma town full of bristly men a charming place to set a novel! 

Today, Marin shares with us how she created Unforgiven, Oklahoma, as well as advice on writing setting that really hit home for me.

Please welcome Marin to WFW!

Amy xo

the setting in a novel is a place that keeps your characters off-balance

 

A Novel Setting: Turning Reality Into Fiction

 

Guy Town; Austin, Texas

HEApromise 300I love picking a story’s location almost as much as I enjoy fleshing out the characters. More often than not I have to write the entire novel before I get a feel for the setting. With The Promise of Forgiveness the setting fell into place faster than the characters and I believe it’s because the concept for the town of Unforgiven, Oklahoma, had been fermenting in my brain for a long time.

I’ve always been fascinated with U.S. history and I enjoy researching the old west.  My love of history is one reason I jump at the chance to take a ghost tour when I visit new cities or towns.  You never know what nugget of information, name or background of a famous person might inspire an idea for a future story.

In The Promise of Forgiveness the fictitious town of Unforgiven, Oklahoma, came into being in a roundabout way. A few years ago when my husband and I were in Tombstone, Arizona, visiting the famous haunted Bird Cage Saloon, another tourist mentioned that he had taken several ghost tours throughout the state of Texas. He went on to tell us a story about a once famous historical neighborhood in Austin called Guy Town. Weeks later the name Guy Town popped into my head again (when you’re over fifty, things pop in and out of your head at an alarming rate). I Googled Guy Town, 1870-1913, and spent hours reading everything I could find, knowing that one day I’d work Guy Town or the idea of it into one of my stories.

In a nutshell,Guy Town, also known as the First Ward, was a saloon district, comprising eight square blocks in Austin. It was the go-to place for women, whiskey, music and gambling. The boundaries of the neighborhood consisted of Congress Avenue to the east, the Colorado River to the south, Guadalupe Street to the west and 4th Street to the north. Today high-rise office buildings and apartments occupy the area, but its history will never be forgotten.

The saloons in Guy Town were typical of those found in any city of similar size in the West during the mid-to-late 1800’s. The one thing that made Guy Town stand out was that it not only catered to reprobates but also to influential clientele due to The Texas State Capitol located right there in the city. In Guy Town state legislators and other government officials sat side-by-side with common folk drinking, gambling, and dancing with the soiled doves.

For a while Guy Town was just another rowdy red-light district in Texas like Houston’s Hollow, El Paso’s Utah Street, Fort Worth’s Hells Half Acre, Waco’s Two Street, and Frogtown in Dallas, where crime and murders were commonplace. Then between 1884 and 1886 a serial killer, known as the “Servant Girl Annihilator,” terrorized the streets of Austin and Guy Town, supposedly murdering eight victims with an axe. The killer was never found.

On July 15, 2014, the PBS TV show History Detective used historical research and modern techniques like psychological and geographic profiling, to help identify a probable suspect: Nathan Elgin, a 19-year-old African-American cook. Elgin worked near the original crime scenes and had a clubfoot, which was similar to a footprint left by the killer. In February 1886, shortly after the last murder, police shot and killed Elgin when he was caught attempting to assault a girl with a knife. Guy Town was shut down in 1913 after a growing sentiment among religious leaders and women’s groups against prostitution, gambling and alcohol abuse.

There wasn’t a need for a serial killer in my women’s fiction, but the name Guy Town stuck with me.  When I came up with the idea for The Promise of Forgiveness, I knew I wanted to create a place that catered to men and challenged the novel’s theme of forgiveness, so I filled the town with oil roughnecks and ranchers—the kind of men who would have visited Guy Town back in the day. Ruby, the heroine in my book, has a deep mistrust of men, therefore I made sure Unforgiven was a place where women weren’t welcome. Often it is only when people are uncomfortable that they acknowledge the need to change.

Unforgiven is a safe haven for men. A place where roughnecks and cowboys check their morals and values at the door. The men have secrets and regrets. Their lives have been built on mistakes and bad decisions. At home the men answer to their wives or girlfriends but just like in Guy Town, there is no one in Unforgiven to hold them accountable for their actions or words.

Ruby is nothing like the wives and girlfriends who are at home waiting for their roughnecks and cowboys. She is as hard as the gemstone she’s named after. She, too, has secrets and has made her share of mistakes and bad judgment calls. The town is a reflection of Ruby—unforgiving and suspicious.

The best advice I can give about setting in a novel is to create a place that keeps your characters off-balance.  If you give the setting it’s own voice and viewpoint, it can help guide you in creating richer, more meaningful characters.

What’s the most unusual setting you’ve read in a book?

 

Marin Thomas writes Women’s Fiction for Berkley/NAL and western romance for Harlequin books. To date she has contracted over 35 projects for Harlequin. The Promise of Forgiveness (March 2016) is her first work of women’s fiction.

High Res Colored Photoaf9e7b_9bdd7616e076462e9fda0e3400dace17Marin grew up in Janesville, Wisconsin, and attended college at the University of Arizona where she played basketball for the Lady Wildcats and earned a B.A. in Radio-TV. Following graduation she married her college sweetheart in a five-minute ceremony at the historical Little Chapel of the West in Las Vegas, Nevada. Marin and her husband are recent empty nesters and currently live in Houston, Texas, where she spends her free time junk hunting and researching her next ghost tour.

 Buy the book! http://bit.ly/BuyPromise

 Website www.marinthomas.com

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Want to learn more about Guy Town?

http://bob-texashillcountry.blogspot.com/2011/02/few-things-about-old-west-you-may-not.html

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Guest Post: Persistence On The Road To Publication by Author Phoebe Fox

HEART CONDITIONS frontNothing fills my writer’s soul than hearing other author’s road to publication. Or their road to not being published yet. It reminds me that while writing is something we do on our own, our experiences are shared. One for all and all for one. 

Today, Phoebe Fox shares her journey to publication with us. She uses words like REJECTION and PERSISTENCE. Words every writer can relate to. 

Please welcome Phoebe to WFW and share your own stories of persistence in the comments! 

Amy xo

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Guest Post: Do Readers Cross The Romance/Women’s Fiction Line? By Laura Drake

Thumbnail CoverWhat do my readers want from me? In today’s publishing climate, we’re often afraid to give something new a try, afraid of losing our readers, our followers, our mojo even. Sometimes our publishers are afraid as well, using the word “brand” to help us shape our new books. Staying within genre makes sense, but it’s not always possible. Especially when we have a story we want to tell that falls outside certain industry parameters. (I have a few floating around myself.)

Today we have with us, Laura Drake, multi-published, award-winning, romance author whose first women’s fiction title is releasing today! She wonders if fans of her romance novels will read her women’s fiction. Will the new readers she acquires with this book pop over and give her romance novels a try? Below, Laura shares with us her excitement and her fears for her new journey. She’s also sharing an short excerpt. 

Please welcome Laura Drake to WFW! And tell us what you think, in the comments.

Amy xo

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Guest Post: No Mystery At All: NYT Bestselling Mystery Author Juliet Blackwell Writes Great Women’s Fiction

9780451473691 (4)Do we choose what we write? Or does what we write, choose us? It’s kind of like how many licks it takes to get to the middle of a Tootsie Pop. The world may never know. But we do know, that as writers, we think about genre and the kind of story we want to tell. What if that changes? Do you dare genre hop in this publishing climate, make new writer friends, join new groups, learn the new rules?

Today we have with us Juliet Blackwell, esteemed mystery author who has now taken a leap into women’s fiction. Find out why she wrote this book, and maybe more importantly, how.

And yes, we’re (totally door-cover-sisters, I know). 

Please welcome Juliet Blackwell to WFW!

Amy xo

My Mysterious Path to Women’s Fiction (Or how—and why—a New York Times bestselling mystery author decided to turn her hand to women’s fiction)

by Juliet Blackwell

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The Fabulous Fall Fiction List 2015

Graphic Fabulous Fall Fiction 2015

It’s September! Which means it’s Fall! And in addition to meaning PUMPKIN SPICE EVERYTHING, it means a new publishing season.

And while you likely know that THE GOOD NEIGHBOR launches on October 13, what you might not know is that means I needed to find other books to read while I’m writing blog posts, essays, visiting libraries, bookstores, and hosting launch parties (you’re coming to a launch party, right?) from now through November.

I scoured the internet and asked my friends. I came up with these seven novels in addition to THE GOOD NEIGHBOR (what kind of author would I be if I left my own book off the list?) as my go-to for Fall. These books are diverse but all fall under the women’s fiction umbrella. They’re all written by authors I trust to deliver me the right story at the right time.

Here’s why I chose these books as FABULOUS FALL FICTION 2015.

THE MIDDLE OF SOMEWHERE by Sonja Yoerg

Middle of Somewhere coverAvailable now!

Sonja is an adventurer and so is her main character and this makes for a thrilling read, in addition to an emotional one. I like to read stories about things I’ll never do (and don’t want to do, do. not. judge.). This book is already available and getting buku well-deserved buzz.

 

WHILE YOU WERE GONE by Kate Moretti

1381265_1059954344032864_9022066249842070660_n (3)Available now!

I love novellas. They’re like the best bite of the best chocolate (and they last longer). I’m fascinated by shorter-form fiction and sometimes that’s enough to get me to read a novella (think it’s hard to write a novel? Try a novella. Not for the faint of heart.) In the case of Kate Moretti, a NYT best-selling author, I just want to read more of her work while I wait for her next novel.

CHANCE HARBOR by Holly Robinson

chance harbor finalAvailable October 6!

I read everything Holly writes and that’s not true of all my author friends (don’t tell anyone). I have already read Chance Harbor and it’s a truthful and emotional family journey. A mother, her two daughters, and the biological/legal daughter the sisters share. Holly’s vivid prose really transported me, as always. And there’s a satisfying ending that’s realistic and not cloyingly sweet. A plus in my book.

 

 

THE WORD GAME by Steena Holmes

51FCxZyGkBL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Available November 3!

New York Times and USA Today best-seller Steena Holmes is about to knock it out of the park again with her new novel full of secrets and suspense as two sisters face their painful past to protect a little girl they both love. Novels that bring up questions of character always tug at me the hardest.

 

 

THE SHORT & SINCERE LIFE OF ELLORY JAMES by Wendy Paine Miller

BookCover_D2Available in November!

It’s time for another novella! This time multi-published author Wendy Paine Miller comes back to readers with a novella about a seventeen-year-old girl who has six months to live and fakes a bucket list to help her mother cope, and then ends up helping herself. Wendy puts a new spin on the traditional bucket list tale here. I can’t wait!

WHITE COLLAR GIRL by Renee Rosen

white collar girl_brown_Page_1 2Available November 3!

Best-selling author Renee Rosen’s newest novel is primed to out due her last, and that’s no small feat. Renee has a way of combining strong historical fiction with the tenacity and heart of excellent women’s fiction. Anything she writes is a must for me!

EDGEOFLOSTTHE EDGE OF LOST by Kristina McMorris

Available November 24th!

Best-selling author Kristina McMorris tells a page-turning tale that moves from Ireland to New York to San Francisco Bay. As her finely crafted characters discover the true nature of loyalty, sacrifice, and betrayal, they are forced to confront the lies we tell—and believe—in order to survive. What I love about Kristina’s writing is the seamless nature of her storytelling. They’re the kind of books I read and think, “I wanna do that.” Always a good sign.

And, last but not least, THE GOOD NEIGHBOR by Amy Sue Nathan

the good neighbor final coverAvailable October 13! 

Here are three reasons I’d love YOU to consider adding THE GOOD NEIGHBOR to your FABULOUS FALL FICTION reading list!

1) Because you like me (you do like me, right? Well then…)

2) Because you can read advance praise not written by relatives or paid for (or even begged for), here.

3) Because you can read the first chapter here and be ready for Chapter 2 on October 13.

 What else are you looking forward to reading this Fall?

Let us know in the comments!

Amy xo

Author Interview: Sonja Yoerg Shares Tips For Kicking Out Your Writer Doubt

Middle of Somewhere cover (1)How thrilled I am to bring Sonja Yoerg back to Women’s Fiction Writers! Over the past year I’ve gotten to know Sonja as we’re both members of Tall Poppy Writers (check out Tall Poppy Writer here). Sonja is wicked smart, a devoted friend, and real adventurer! Oh — and how could I forget? She writes a kick ass novel! 

You’ll not only learn about Sonja’s real and writerly journeys below, but get some great tips on kicking writer doubt out of your day!

Please welcome Sonja Yoerg back to WFW!

Amy xo

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Guest Post: Author Diana Bletter Talks About Making Up Words, Writing What You Know, And Living Your Life

remarkableKindness pbOne of the best parts of being an author is reading other authors’ books before they’re published — and sometimes being asked for an endorsement (a compliment, indeed). Such was the case with Diana Bletter’s A Remarkable Kindness. This story — and Diana’s story — are indeed, remarkable.

Here’s my quote: 

“A REMARKABLE KINDNESS, is a story about the bonds of friendship and family; how they are made, broken, and come full circle. Diana Bletter writes with such lush and insightful prose that a foreign landscape and culture becomes warm and familiar. A REMARKABLE KINDNESS explores the power of friendship, love, and ancient traditions, and Bletter’s characters makes you wonder just how far you would go (literally and figuratively) for the people you love.”

Please welcome Diana to WFW! 

Amy xo

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