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Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Romance of Writing Winter Settings

By Delsora Lowe

I’ll admit right up front that I am not a lover of winter. Unless…I am sitting inside by a roaring fire, sipping hot cocoa, and watching lazy snowflakes drift by…OUTSIDE my window. Having said that, I love to write books set in winter.

Who doesn’t love the thought of cuddling under a huge wool lap blanket while riding in a sleigh on a crisp, cold starlit night under a full moon with the love of your life? Or a first date with the man you’ve lusted after for years, cross-country skiing over a field of virgin snow under a sunny, bluer than blue February sky.

Winter Walk in Colorado
Photo by Tanya Noone Baldwin
Cross-country skiing in Maine
Photo by Nancy Bosburgh-Zane

Or being “stranded” in a car, just the two of you, on a small winding road in Colorado, snowflakes fluttering down under a full moon shining through the light cloud cover, and surrounded by a herd of grazing elk…on Christmas Eve. Yes, that really happened to me. A little bit scary, yes! But awe-inspiring as the silhouettes of Elk meandered around the car, their majestic heads held high, the moonlight and swirling snow adding an eerie, but beautiful feel to the cold night. And, you can bet I used that magical scene in one of my Cowboys of Mineral Springs, Colorado ranching novels due out in 2018-19.

My current work in progress, The Inn on Gooseneck Lane, is set during the winter holidays in Vermont, and will abound with romantic outdoor activities (says I, as I gleefully rub my hands together in anticipation.) Think midnight sleigh rides under a full moon. Watching New Year’s Eve fireworks while sitting around a bonfire, sipping mulled wine or hot cocoa and toasting marshmallows. Midday cross-country ski trips with a winter picnic around a toasty fire. And then returning to a cozy New England Inn for the night.

Fireworks over Aspen, CO ski area
Photo by Tanya Noone Baldwin
In my Starlight Grille series, I used winter scenes in all three books.

In book one, The Legacy of Parkers Point, the resolution happens on a blustery, snowy day. Using weather, in this case the cold and snow as a metaphor or contrast to convey emotion gives readers the ability to feel what your character does.
Lauralee stood and walked to the bank of windows, the flutter of first snow now drifting across the deck, a contrast to the turmoil inside her.
In book two, Come Dance With Me, the moment it seems that all is lost for our hero and heroine, is at a Christmas dance. There is also a scene of driving through a blizzard searching for a lost teen. Although all turns out well, I had to pull forth my many experiences of commuting to and from work in blizzard conditions in Maine to help create a feeling of anxiety. And my friend’s knowledge of search and rescue techniques for frigid weather adds authenticity to the scene. Hence the reason I’d rather be warming my hands next to a roaring fire, rather than out in a blizzard.

In my newest book, with a Valentine’s Day setting, the entire story is set during the winter. Mary Beth, the heroine of Moonlighting, doesn’t see herself as the most graceful or athletic person. I used her lack of confidence in herself in an ice-skating date gone awry with the man she crushed on in high school and has recently reconnected with. The angst of once being that nerdy, uncoordinated, plump girl drives her emotion and reactions to a present day date on skates. I used my own experience as a far from athletic teen and a date from hell (on his part, not mine) with one of my teenage crushes—skating on the canal in Washington D.C., and having to cling to my date the entire time because I was so afraid of falling. Okay, so clinging to a guy you have a crush on is a good thing. Holding him back from having a great time with a group of friends, not so much. Fifty years later, that date is a vivid memory that I used to conjure up the angst of my heroine.

As I said earlier, winter is not my favorite time of year, because for me it means more work; bundling up to go outside, navigating bad roads and sidewalks, trying to keep myself warm even inside the house, shoveling. But winter can also be the most romantic season to write about, where you can use the backdrop of setting to build celebrations or mirror your character’s angst.

Holiday Magic, Aspen, CO
Photo by Tanya Noone Baldwin
So I leave you with romantic thoughts for a cold winter day. Winter holidays. The chill in the air, a good excuse for cuddling. The vivid blue winter skies. The winter constellations in a moonlit, clear, crisp sky. The magic of a pristine, bright white landscape. The touch of snowflakes landing on your cheeks and the invigorating cold as you fill your lungs with each breath. Warm drinks by a roaring fire. Being snowed in with the one person you love. And last, but not least, curling up by the fire to read a romance.

Do you have a favorite winter memory?

And since February is the month of all things Valentine, anyone who leaves a comment and their email address between now and February 28 will be put in a drawing to win a free copy of Moonlighting. The book will be on sale for 99 cents through March 10.

A blast from the past, a ten-year old matchmaker with a valentine wish, an omission, and a villainous man…a recipe for disaster? Or love against all odds?

Tucker Benson’s decision to move to a new town, build a new business, and protect his daughter does not include finding a replacement for his cheating wife. But his ten-year old daughter has other plans.

And she’s found the one!

Mary Beth Walters’ life is up-to-the-brim full. When her high school crush, a single father, moves to town, she is tempted. Only problem is, he doesn’t recognize her. That could be a good thing. Or end in trouble.

When Tucker discovers the secret Mary Beth holds close to her heart, will love be enough to overcome broken trusts?

From Cabins to Cottages…Keep the Home Fires Burning
Delsora Lowe
A transplanted big city gal, world-wide traveler, and foreign-service brat, who now lives in a coastal Maine town, Delsora Lowe loves to write about small town heroes from the cowboys and ranchers of Colorado to the game wardens and lobstermen of Maine. Her work in the hospitality industry, rape crisis, admissions, alumni relations, and women’s advocacy has allowed her to interact on a daily basis with real life heroines and heroes.

Lowe’s family visits to Colorado are the inspiration for an upcoming contemporary western series in 2018. And her daughter’s wedding and her son’s home on the coast of Maine provided plentiful ideas for the Starlight Grille series.

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Links to Moonlighting (A Starlight Grille Book 3): on preorder, to be released on December 7
Books2Read – links to various vendors including iBooks, Nook, Kobo:

Links to Come Dance With Me (A Starlight Grille Book 2):
Books2Read – links to various vendors including iBooks, Nook, Kobo: 

Links to The Legacy of Parkers Point (A Starlight Grille Book 1):
Books2Read – links to various vendors including iBooks, Nook, Kobo:


Judith Ashley said...

Thanks for visiting here at Romancing The Genres Delsora. Love the pictures!!! Especially the ones of Colorado in winter.

Deb Noone said...

Judith - thanks so much for having me visit RTG today. Winter is indeed an inspiring time to write about. I'm finishing up a book right now that is set in winter, and awaiting the next snow storm to hit Maine tomorrow morning. We just cleaned up from the last storm and had a nice melting. Did I say I love to write about winter, but I do not love to shovel :-)

Sarah Raplee said...

I enjoyed your post, Delsora. Like you, I love winter as long as I don't have to work or drive out in it. My dad used to refer to breathing the cold air as 'invigorating.' I refer to it as 'freeze-you-nose-hairs cold.'

I love the blurb for Moonlighting!

Barbara Rae Robinson said...

I'm glad I don't live where winter storms are the norm! I don't know how you do it, Deb. Our snow is gone and I hope it doesn't come back. I'm ready for spring. But I do love your descriptions of winter. I'm fascinated by winter scenes if I don't have to go out in them. About ten years ago we were snowed in for Christmas. Couldn't see any of the family. But my husband drove us up to my girlfriend's house in his 4-wheel-drive Ford pickup. In compound low, we were able to crawl up the hill and down her long driveway. And enjoyed a nice Christmas dinner with friends.

SusanD said...

Deb, I'm shivering already! I have great memories of winter, but growing up in South Louisiana these consisted of coming home from school on a rainy, cold winter afternoon to find my mom baking oatmeal cookies. We lived in an old house (1904 old) with fireplaces in living room and bedroom (back to back), but there must have been others since the house had two chimneys. Sitting in front of that with a blazing fire going was fun and cozy. We didn't have enough cold days, though.

I even went backpacking on the Appalachian Trail in February(southern end but still snowy and icy), but that was not particularly romantic. :)

Deb Noone said...

Thanks, Sarah - I do have to admit I love that blurb too. It was a fun book to write, with a tenacious little girl set on finding a new mom. Yes - freeze-you-nose-hairs about says it all. And more snow coming tomorrow. I finally got the driveway and paths all cleared off. But spring will be here, officially, next week. I am glad you checked in today!

Deb Noone said...

Barb - I can relate. Your Christmas memory sounds like this year's Christmas in Maine. we hunkered down Christmas eve and all the day. And all of a sudden at 2 p.m. the sun came out, we snowblowed a path to the car and the end of the driveway and made it down to dinner with my precious grandson. The plows in Maine do an incredible job of keeping up, so highways weren't too bad. The elk scene in CO was another snowy Christmas, but we took the drive slow. All those snowy holidays are beautiful, but a bit scary.

Deb Noone said...

Susan - backpacking in snow and ice - no fun. I supposed if you got stuck in a cabin with a fireplace and plenty of food with some handsome hero, it would have been romantic :-) I grew up with fireplaces. Oh how I miss them. That's why the story about the Vermont inn that I am writing right now has a fireplace in every room, including all the guest rooms. Not sure the hero and heroine appreciate that, since they are lugging a lot of wood to the guest rooms after the power goes out on Thanksgiving day. But - we have to "torture" our characters to get them together :-)

Luanna Stewart said...

I love how you painted all those cold, snowy, cozy scenes, Delsora! While I enjoy watching the snow fall, coating the evergreens like frosting on a cake, I do NOT enjoy dealing with the snow. This winter has been quite accommodating in that respect. Pretty snow one day, mild temperatures and rain the next to wash it all away, LOL! Weather is a fabulous tool to set mood or create external conflict, and I use it for both. Too bad "It was a dark and stormy night..." is already taken, hehe.

Deb Noone said...

Lu - thanks for stopping by from your cold spot in Canada. We've had the same up and down winter here. I loved your winter scene in If Wishes Were Earls. I was frozen solid by the time I finished reading the scene in the forest, even though I was cozy under my covers. Luckily there was a very warm and handsome hero waiting. Thanks for stopping by on a "snowy" day in literature.

Diana McCollum said...

Beautiful descriptions of winter and snow, Deb. I especially liked the one about being stuck in the car and having the elk mosey through. Snow again here today and we got to use the new snow blower! Good luck on sales!

Paty Jager said...

Hi Delsora, Welcome to Romancing the Genres! Winter is a great time to bring two people together and forge a romance. Your books all sound great and I loved your descriptions.

Deb Noone said...

Diana - I will never forget that scene with the Elk, even though it happened years ago, I can still feel the magic of it. YAY with the news snow blower. Those make life a bit easier. Ours will be in full use tomorrow. And hopefully I can spend most of the day inside writing my final snow scenes for the Vermont book. Until I have to shovel :-)

Marty Mayberry said...

I love how you've reminded me this season can be magical. More times than not, I see the snow as something I have to shovel or drive through, and I don't take the time to enjoy how it sparkles in the sunlight, or how the crisp air nips my cheeks and nose. And Moonlight sounds like a great read; your blurb is wonderful!

Deb Noone said...

Paty - thanks so much for stopping by. I do love to write descriptions. Sometimes a bit too much, according to my editors :-)

Deb Noone said...

Thanks so much for stopping by, Marty. Yes, driving in snow is not the most fun, especially all those rural, up and down, and windy roads. It is nice on those days we can really appreciate the beauty of a winter day, when we're not trying to fight the elements.

Jennifer Wilck said...

I love the romance of winter and as you say, sitting in front of a roaring fire is the perfect place to be on a cold day or night. Good luck with your books, they sound great!

Unknown said...

Great Post, I like reading about how to use the weather to help convey emotion. Moonlighting sounds like a fun read!! Good luck!

Deb Noone said...

Thanks, Jennifer - one of these days I'll have a fireplace again. For now, my little space heater under my desk has to suffice. Keeps me warm while I look out at the snowflakes swirling down.

Deb Noone said...

Thank you for stopping by, Unknown (I hate to call you unknown, but I wanted to make sure I acknowledged your comment). With tomorrow's snow hopefully it will inspire me to write my last few chapters that end on a snowy New Year's Eve :-)

Jen Gilroy said...

Such an evocative post, Debora. I enjoyed it very much & also learning about some of the links between your writing and life. My favourite winter memory is from childhood when I skated with my my parents on an outdoor pond and then stopped for hot chocolate (from a thermos) on a snow-covered bench.

Deb Noone said...

Jen - hot chocolate and skating go together so well. What a sweet memory - I am picturing a little girl skating around on a small country pond. I hate to admit, I still haven't mastered ice skating. But luckily my children and grand children all love skating - hockey, mostly.

Deb Noone said...

Jennifer Wilck is the winner of the free book. I posted this earlier but it did not go through. I will contact you.