07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Comtemporary Romance Author Darlene Panzera - Holiday Themes and Settings

     I loosely based my latest release, THE CUPCAKE DIARIES: Spoonful of Christmas on the famous Grinch story classic. I first made a list of Christmas songs, decorations, and traditions  to incorporate into the story to give the reader a real feel for the holiday. Then when my daughter and I were brainstorming what kind of villain could try to sabotage Christmas for my three heroines who run the Creative Cupcakes shop, we just knew it had to be a Grinch! One of the heroines already had a six-year-old, blond-haired daughter who was perfect to play the role of Cindy Lou Who. After that we introduced a few new characters, including a foster care boy (named Max after the Grinch story dog), and created a different spin on the Grinch storyline.
     Once I had the plot, I did a lot of research into the setting of the story and went to Astoria, Oregon to speak with the locals about traditions and legends specific to the area that readers might not know about. For instance, when it snows the town shuts down eighth street, one of the steepest streets in America, for community sledding. I thought this would be a perfect place for a romantic encounter for my hero and heroine. I also had one couple go to the famed Victorian Flavel House for plum pudding and another of my couples travel over the Astoria-Meglar bridge into Ilwaco, Washington  to see a lighted boat parade and the world's largest crab pot Christmas tree. Of course major turning points in the story also occurred at each of these locations.
     Instead of a chimney, I had to figure out a way for my Grinch to steal presents and local research also provided the answer. Astoria is famous for the pirates who use to "shanghai" unsuspecting people from taverns and force them to join their crew. The Portway restaurant still has one such trap door and tunnel used from that by-gone era. Except in my novella I changed the restaurant's name to 'The Captain's Port' and added a few more of these trap doors and tunnels around town. When combined: holiday tradition, local setting, humorous characters, and a romantic storyline can make a very interesting, sweet, fun-loving Christmas!
For fans of Debbie Macomber comes Spoonful of Christmas, the fourth installment in the popular Cupcake Diaries series.

Andi, Rachel, and Kim each have their own reasons for wanting this Christmas at Creative Cupcakes to be special. 
Andi is scared that Jake's job offer with another newspaper will move them to a different state. Rachel, set to marry Mike on Christmas Eve, is afraid her cousin Stacey will ruin the wedding.

Kim fears she'll never get a ring and Nathaniel will leave her after the holidays are over.

What they didn't count on was having a modern-day Grinch try to steal Christmas away from them. Can they unmask the culprit before it's too late ... or will this be a Christmas to remember for all the wrong reasons?

Darlene Panzera writes sweet, fun-loving romance. Her career launched with the publication of THE BET, included in NY Times best-selling author Debbie Macomber's FAMILY AFFAIR. Her current series, THE CUPCAKE DIARIES, hit the top 100 on the Barnes & Noble Nook with a debut at #7 for overall sales. 

Darlene says, "I love writing stories that help inspire people to laugh, value relationships, and pursue their dreams."  


Sarah Raplee said...

Welcome to Romancing the Genres, Darlene! I love the way you incorporate the Astoria setting. It's one of my favorite places in the world! Great job, too - all the details you mentioned are so true.

Happy Holidays!

Darlene Panzera said...

Thank you for inviting me as a guest here today! Hi Sarah, yes, I have found such a great wealth of local lore to incorporate into each one of The Cupcake Diaries novellas. The next book in the series is: Sprinkled With Kisses, features a mobile cupcake stand on the beach and releases on March 18, 2014.

Sandra said...

Sounds so fun! I can't wait to read it.

Patricia Bradley said...

Sounds like a great story!!

Judith Ashley said...

Hi Darlene,

Thanks for sharing how you blend your setting ideas with factual places. It is so important to get those details right! A very creative story-line and interesting way to make the setting play an important role.

Glad your schedule allowed you to join us at RTG!!!


Darlene Panzera said...

Thanks Sandra, Patricia, and Judith! This was my first time writing about an actual existing town and the setting has played such a huge part in the storyline that I think I might do the same in the future for a different series. Thank you for your comments! It was great to be here today!

Diana Mcc. said...

I always enjoy books that include setting details! Your book sounds wonderful. Happy Holidays!!