Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Day 3 of Celebrating Independence Day Blog Hop...and Paula Martin visiting!


  **Day 3 of My 1-4th July Blog Hop Competition**

My winner will receive an ecopy of Monogamy Twist, and a bumper pack of Scottish Castle Greetings Cards and Matching Gift Tags (see sidebar photo)

Use this link to enter the blog hop page:

http://thebloghopspot.com/event-page/





My competition rules. All you have to do is this:

1. Like and tag -MONOGAMY TWIST by Nancy Jardine- Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/wwaGCv   -A like of my Amazon author page while you’re there will be most welcome!
(Follow me on Twitter @ nansjar /and or like on FaceBook http://facebook.com/nancy.jardine.56 and I’ll follow you back)

2. Find the name of my featured castle each day. There will be a photo on my blog sidebar and the name of it in the short blog post. Send all 4 castle names in an email to nan_jar@btinternet.com  to be entered into the draw for my winner! 

3. And ...Say 'Hi!' in the comments box below. Just that one word will do.

                                                      ****It could be you****

Day 3- Name the castle.
Since medieval times, Dunnottar (located on a rocky headland south of Aberdeen, near Stonehaven) has been the site of fortified buildings. Dunnottar comes from the Scottish gaelic, Dùn Fhoithear, meaning ‘fort on the shelving slope’. During Viking times (9th Century) King Donald II was killed defending an earlier Dunnottar Castle from a Viking invasion when they seized and destroyed the Castle.

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 And now I'm delighted to welcome my friend- Paula Martin- who is featuring as the first of my July Tuesdays focus on using particular LOCATIONS in novels.  

Location, location, location

In the 1960’s, some scenes for a major British film were shot in my home town. We watched some of the filming one evening. When the film was shown at the local cinema the following year, of course we went to see it. In one scene, a bus pulled up outside the Town Hall. You could sense the reaction all over the cinema, with people muttering ‘Buses don’t stop there.’ In that split second, the illusion was lost as people with a personal knowledge of the location were distracted by an inaccuracy.

A minor detail, I know, but it has stayed with me, over 40 years later. I’ve read similar inaccuracies in books – someone looks out from the White House and sees Pennsylvania Avenue beyond the Washington Monument (wrong, the Monument is south of the White House, and PA Ave is north); someone gets a train from Victoria Station in London to travel to Edinburgh (nope, you’d have a long time to wait at Victoria for a train to anywhere in the north of Britain!); someone pulls their car to a standstill in Quay Street, Galway (sorry, that’s a traffic-free zone).

As a result, I’m very wary about making basic errors like this when I’m writing about a place I don’t know. That’s one reason why I prefer to set my contemporary romances in places I do know. My last two novels, ‘Fragrance of Violets’ and ‘Changing the Future’ have both been set mainly in the English Lake District, an area I know and love. That doesn’t mean I haven’t ‘played around’ with the setting. I’ve moved the buildings around in one village, and moved another village into a different valley, so that I can honestly say my ‘fictional’ villages are ‘based’ on real villages, rather than being exact replicas.

There are times however when the plot of a story dictates a setting with which I’m not familiar. My hero in ‘Changing the Future’ is a volcanologist, and I needed him to go to Iceland, where I’ve never been. The internet, of course, is a bottomless barrel of information about anywhere and everywhere, with information, photographs, videos and also the superb Google Earth application (unfortunately the street view car hadn’t reached Iceland when I was doing my research!)
 
But can all the internet resources tell me what it’s actually like to LIVE in a Greek village, or a small town in mid-West America, or a farmhouse in Tuscany? Can they give me the atmosphere of a place? The traditions, customs and attitudes peculiar to a particular area? I think not, and that’s why I prefer to use places I know, so that I can enable the reader not just to see a place but to ‘feel’ it too. When a place is ‘real’ to me, I can then show it through my characters’ eyes.

Maybe I can use the internet resources, and my imagination, but I wouldn’t like to set a whole novel in an environment with which I’d not be familiar. I admire people who can do this, but I’d be too worried about getting something wrong. I’m still aware of those people who, when reading it, might say, ‘Buses don’t stop there.’ Inaccurate location details annoy me – and I don’t want to annoy my readers!


Nancy says: 
I totally agree with you, Paula, that its reasonable enough to include places you've visited in a novel, but I wouldn't want to base all the action in a place that I'd only visited for a day or two as a tourist. The feel of a a place, its environmental impact in the residents is incredibly important. 
  
Blurb for ‘Changing the Future’
 Lisa Marshall is stunned when celebrated volcanologist Paul Hamilton comes back into her life at the college where she now teaches. Despite their acrimonious break-up several years earlier, they soon realise the magnetic attraction between them is stronger than ever. However, the past is still part of the present, not least when Paul discovers Lisa has a young son. They can’t change that past, but will it take a volcanic eruption to help them change the future?

Excerpt:
As Lisa’s gaze moved to the man walking with Fiona, she frowned. There was something familiar about the tall, slim figure—the way he walked, and the way he tilted his head as he listened to Fiona.
Don’t be stupid, she told herself, but still couldn’t take her eyes off him. As the gap between them lessened, her blood started to run cold. It wasn’t—it couldn’t possibly be…
The man lifted his hand to flick back a stray strand of light brown hair from his forehead and she knew it was Paul.
For an insane moment, she wanted to run towards him, be scooped up in his arms again, see the laughter in his blue eyes, feel his soft and sensual mouth against hers.
Stunned by her reaction, by feelings she thought she’d totally suppressed, she stopped abruptly. Another thirty seconds and they’d come face-to-face. Total panic made her heart thump against her ribs.
“I-I’ve just remembered—er, I need some—some class lists.” Without waiting for Millie to reply, she turned and quickened her pace back towards the Old House.
Dimly she heard Millie call out something about coffees in the cafeteria. The whole world had receded and she was aware only of the painful pounding in her chest. Shock mixed with incredulity. Paul here at Hillside? Her mind simply refused to believe what her eyes had seen.
When she reached the Old House, she went straight to the ladies’ room. To her relief, no one else was there. She didn’t dare think, didn’t dare allow herself to feel anything. Not until she’d managed to control the trembling which was shaking her whole body.
She glanced at her reflection in the mirror. The blood had drained from her face and her brown eyes looked back at her with shock and panic. “Oh God,” she breathed. “Oh, dear God…”
Had she really seen Paul Hamilton again? Paul in person, not just on television? She deliberately hadn’t watched his Power of the Planet series which had brought him international fame, but then he’d started appearing regularly on TV. Not only on science programmes, but sometimes even on prime-time news, especially when the Icelandic ash cloud had disrupted air travel the previous year. He’d become a well-known expert on volcanic activity. Whenever she saw him on the screen, she had to steel herself against remembering the man she’d once loved so deeply.
She rested her hands on the edge of the washbasin and took a few deep breaths. Maybe she’d imagined it, maybe it hadn’t been him at all, simply someone who looked like him. Walked like him, tilted his head in the same way, pushed back his hair with the same mannerism.
Her shoulders sagged. No, of course it was Paul.

Buy Details:
Also available in multi-formats at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/161712#longdescr

Author Bio:
Paula Martin lives near Manchester in North West England and has two daughters and two grandsons.
She had some early publishing success with four romance novels and several short stories, but then had a break from writing while she brought up a young family and also pursued her career as a history teacher for twenty-five years. She has recently returned to writing fiction, after retiring from teaching, and is thrilled to have found publishing success again with her contemporary romances.
Apart from writing, she enjoys visiting new places. She has travelled extensively in Britain and Ireland, mainland Europe, the Middle East, America and Canada. Her other interests include musical theatre and tracing her family history.
Her other available books are ‘His Leading Lady’ (set in London’s West End theatre world) and ‘Fragrance of Violets’, a story of forgiveness set in England’s Lake District.

Paula can be found at these places:

Twitter: @PaulaRomances

Thank you for visiting me today, Paula. It's been a pleasure having you start off my series of 'locations' blogs.

Slainthe!





35 comments:

  1. I agree,Paula. If you're setting your book in a real location you HAVE to get it right. Like you, I often set my stories in places I know, so I have a feel for the landscape, the atmosphere, the style of architecture but, where necessary, I then reinvent the topography and the road maps, and rename! I don't want to bounce readers out of the story with inaccuracies.

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    1. Hi Gilli. I've done a bit of tweaking of topography as well. What I'm now most aware of is using foreign places I've visited some time ago. They can change so quickly, and though I'm writing fiction, someone might just say I remember that but it's not here anymore...

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  2. Wow, Paula, that bus thing in the movies really would ruin it for me.

    My 'No Bulls' series is set in the mountains of TN in a location where there is NOTHING. Not only do I hope my readers will fall in love with my characters and story, they will also fall in love with the small 'fake' TN town I've created. Nor will they have to try and figure out if I did my research.

    As a writer I don't have to worry about having accurate places and settings when it's my own town. No need to add unnessary stress!

    Great post!

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    1. Hi Toni, I've invented a whole new village/town in my historical since it is set in Celtic/Roman times in Britain AD 71. Anyone who challenges me on that will have to make a very good case, I suppose. :-))

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  3. Generally I prefer to set my books in places that I know, however I have set a couple of books in Spain where I've never been. You really need to do your research though.

    Lots of luck with your books.

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    1. Hi Margaret, I agree. Stick to that research.

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  4. Gilli, I do the same as you - although I'm sure anyone who knows the Lake District would recognise the village in my 'Fragrance of Violets' novel!

    Toni - I'm intrigued about why you chose Tennessee for your location, and not your own home state.

    Margaret - I admire you for setting your books in Spain! I had to take my hero to Iceland for a couple of chapters in Changing the Future, and you're right about having to do a lot of research into places where you;ve never been.

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  5. Hi, Paula. Good luck with Changing The Future. (My TBR pile is one less since I just finished a novel, and that means I'm closer to CTF!

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    1. Thanks so much for having me as your guest today, Nancy! Hope you'll enjoy CTF when it gets to the top of the pile :-)

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  6. Thanks so much! I love watching the fireworks with the kids! They get so excited!!!

    forettarose@yahoo.com

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    1. Hi Foretta. Good to have you pop in! Enjoy your holiday.

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  7. I like to use fictional towns similar to my home. I'm afraid that not only would people pick the details apart, but they would accuse me of modeling characters after real people. My family is already suspicious.

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    1. Must admit I've not used my own home town, Sandra, and I've usually invented new names for my 'main' settings. I've also used real places, too, (such as Paris and New York) but I've tried not to describe them in too much detail in case I get something wrong!

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    2. Hi Sandra, and Paula. I have an old school friend who came to my last birthday party (we now live around 180 miles apart) and she asked if I had used her, and her husband's, names in Monogamy Tiwst on purpose. I told her that Bob was the name that popped up for a very minor role, and he needed a wife, so there was no better name than June...my friend's name. They just fit together since June is married to Bob. She was delighted, even though my characters don't resemble them apart from in name.

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  8. Hi Paula, I agree with you that the location has to be realistic. I've also done a lot of research into my locations for my books. A Heart of Little Faith is set in NYC, somewhere I'm very familiar with, although I did look up subways so that I could find the correct ones that would take my characters where they wanted to go. What made it even more challenging was the wheelchair--I had to make sure there was access everywhere! Skin Deep is set in a variety of locations, some of which I know, some of which I don't. I did a lot of research and made sure that whatever I wrote about was accurate, and if I couldn't find the information, I didn't focus on that. My WIP is also set in NYC, so I'm back on familiar territory again.

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    1. Hi Jen - even with my main setting in the Lake District, which I know really well, I still have to check things out. I can imagine the research you'd have to do regarding wheel chair access.
      When I took the hero to Iceland for 2 chapters, I had to do a lot more research of course.

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  9. Hi Jennifer. Hopefully you haven't junked all that useful info you'd gathered for A Heart of Little Faith. You'll be checking it just in case it can be of use, I'm sure!

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  10. Hi Paula. My internet has been down for a huge chunk of the late aftenoon. Debra St. John tried to leave a post for you, couldn't and emailed me instead:
    Debra...
    Arghhh...I just wrote a lengthy comment and it disappeared into the unknown land of Blogger. Don't you hate that?!

    Anyway, I do tend to use settings I know for my books. It makes it so much easier to be authentic with even the smallest details. When I do use a setting I don't know, I do a TON of research and tend to be a little more general about it...so I don't make glaring errors. Which maybe takes away a little something. Then again...it's nice to branch out from time to time...

    Great post!

    DebraStJohn

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    1. Hi Debra - sorry you had problems with Blogger playing up, but thanks for sending your message anyway. Agree about it being easier to be authentic when using a place you know. My next release is set in Egypt, amd although I could describe a lot of the places I've visited, I still had to do a mass of research!

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  11. Hi Paula, loved your post. Since I write mainly SF and Fantasy, being accurate about locations is not usually too much of a problem, since most of my settings are fictional. Having said that, they're often based on real areas in Wales that I know well, but I usually give them fictitious names. The exception was my Greek Muse fantasy 'Dancing With Fate', which is set in 5th Century Wales. Many of the places I mention are real places and the town of Carmarthen is reputed to bethe actual birthplace of the hero, Myrddyn ab Morfryn, although of course it's a lot different now to how it was seven hundred years ago! I also mention the Welsh 'Atlantis', known then as Maes Gwyddno, but now called 'Cantre'r Gwaelod'. I'm sure if I'd got any of those details wrong someone would have spotted it! :)

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    1. Hi Lyn, thanks for visiting. Fictional locations are easy in one way, but you still have to have a good imagination in order to create them. You must have had to do a fair amount of research into 5th century Wales, but you still have to be reasonably accurate otherwise, as you say, someone would tell you you;d got it wrong!

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  12. Very good point to be aware of. Thanks Paula. And a lovely excerpt to boot! Can't beat that. :)

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    1. Hi Calisa! It's so nice to have you visit!

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  13. Hi. Hope you have a happy 4th of July. There have been a few movies filmed where I live & I always check for inaccuracies. I haven't read as many books set here, but I do the same thing with the books as well.

    wolphcall(at)bellsouth(dot)net

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    1. Hi Lisa, I think wherever you write about, you can bet someone who reads it will know the place. I've seen other errors in movies and TV series too. It might be called 'artistic license' but it still grates on me!
      Happy 4th to you too!

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    2. Very interesting post and comments.

      I guess I'm peculiar, but the bus stopping where, in real life, it doesn't, wouldn't bother me, nor would other similar alterations. I'd just allow for the necessity of some adjustments for plot, and enjoy the story. In my own novels, all set in real locations, I do a disclaimer up front if there has been a need to deviate from real place reality in any matter. However, not a single person through seven novels has noticed or bothered to mention any deviation from true and real. Got better things to be concerned with I suppose.
      Radine Trees Nehring

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    3. Hi Radine - suspension of disbelief is an accepted part of watching movies and TV, and even of reading too. The bus incident wasn't really important - and people who didn't know the town wouldn't have noticed it anyway. But I've seen instances when an author simply hasn't checked facts (which could be easily researched), or very obviously doesn't know the place they are writing about. In your case, you know when you've deviated from a real place which means you know the location well enough to know that you've deviated! I'm referring more to basic errors about a place which show a lack of research on the part of the author.

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  14. I was amazed that Victoria Hislop, who is a travel writer, for goodness sake, describes her protagonist's arrival in Granada incorrectly in 'The Return'. Actually the book is riddled with inaccuracies, improbabilities and inconsistencies of continuity, but it was that first scene that prevented me taking the book seriously.
    Having said that, I have just written a book partly set in India, which caused me enormous problems. But I DID ask some experts to check it for me. Now I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

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    1. I agree, Jenny - once you discover a major error, like the one you've cited, it can colour your view of the rest of the book.
      Good luck with your India-set book. I had similar problems when I took my hero to Iceland for two chapters. I didn't know anyone who had been to Iceland, so had to rely on general info, photos and videos (thank heaven for YouTube!)

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  15. I wrote a long and complicated comment and the site ate it! Suffice to say I agree

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  16. Hi Jennny. The site probably did get it, but since my internet has been down a lot over the last day, or so, it's hard to tell who's been the guilty culprit! Good luck with the India references in your book.

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  17. Thank you so much for visiting yesterday, Paula. Your visitors had lovely commments! Best wishes for great sales of your books!

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    1. Thanks so much for having me as your guest, Nancy. It was a fun day, with so many interesting comments. Good luck to you too with Monogamy Twist :-)

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