8-24 What Makes Your Romantic partner “The One” for You?
Hosted by Romance Author Lyncee Shillard

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Write What You Know: Advice Most Writers Have Heard

By Delsora Lowe

I read many different romance genres, but I write contemporary – yes, I write what I know best. I admire the authors who write historical or paranormal or…you name the genre. But I know I do best when sticking with—in a way—what I know best.

Which leads me to why I write small town-based romances.

For me to write what I know includes a myriad of experiences of being born and growing up in a city, in between stints of living overseas. But the childhood experiences that mark me are spending summers in two small towns in New York (my grandmother’s house and an Adirondack camp), going to college in a tiny town in Vermont, spending summers in an out-of-the way small beach community, visiting my daughter in the mountains of Colorado, and living most of my adult life in a medium-sized town near the coast of Maine. These towns are the basis of my world building. Then my imagination takes over with what-ifs.

Don’t get me wrong, I love cities. As a teen it was a great place to grow up, with its little neighborhoods, easy transportation to wherever you wished to go, the cultural and educational opportunities, and vibrant diversity. And I do write about big city experiences, but usually in the context of coming home to the small town.

All my experiences are like nutrients that nourish and grow my stories. And when you can add in elements of true experiences, all the better.

My daughter used to live in the Colorado mountains, so I know the glitz of small-town Aspen compared to the family- and small-business-friendly towns down valley. Elements of both types of small towns show up in my upcoming series, Cowboys of Mineral Springs.
Cattle Drive
A real-life cattle drive down main street is used in a scene in book two. Being surrounded by a herd of elk on a snowy, but full-moon lit Christmas Eve, another true event, shows up as a scene in book three. Denver plays a part in bringing my second-chance couple together in book four, before heading back to live at the ranch.

In The Prince’s Son, book one, due out in April, the setting is based on a ranch near Aspen once owned by a middle-eastern true-life prince. My daughter taught skiing to children of wealthy visitors to Aspen. Both are true-to-life inspiration for my entirely fictional characters.
Downtown Aspen
My Starlight Grille series released in 2018, is set in coastal Maine. I’m working on another novella series (Galway Cove) in the same area. Maybe a lobster trap Christmas tree, like the one built by my daughter’s friend in a small coastal town near me, will appear in a scene.

Lobster Trap Christmas Tree
As a writer I have chosen to write in the small town, contemporary genre, not only because the characteristics of small towns draw me in, but they are where I have gravitated to as an adult. I love creating the dynamics of neighbors helping neighbors, or second chance romances, or the conflict that occurs when there is disagreement where everyone knows your business.

Plus, there is something romantic about small towns, where you can walk down the street and know people, or jar memories from when you were a child or a teen or a young married couple. Where you can hear the high school band warming up for the Veteran’s Day parade from your back porch, even though the high school parking lot is across town. Or walk several blocks to the town square to watch outdoor movies on the green, or listen to the municipal band at the gazebo, or wander the weekly farmer’s market, or skate on the man-made pond in the winter. And what’s a day without running into and chatting with half-dozen friends in one trip to the grocery store.

Basically, small towns conjure up the images of being able to stop and smell the roses, instead of letting life pass you by in a whir of work, rushing to catch public transportation, climbing the corporate ladder, never having time to say hello to a neighbor in the apartment hallway, or even recognizing them as your neighbor.

I was asked if writing about small towns is limiting.

I believe there is a never-ending source of inspiration for creating small-town worlds. You take bits and pieces of reality, and they morph into fiction on the page. In small towns your characters can find their happily-ever-after, maybe with a bit of meddling from the aunt who has always been there for them, or under the microscope of the entire town. It’s a different dynamic than in a city setting.

The layout of the small town facilitates the ability to constantly run into friends and enemies. The characters can’t get away with avoiding people, being put under the microscope of scrutiny, or being the victim of matchmaking.

For me, writing small town is fun! And when the big, bad world around us gets to be too much, immersing myself in writing (or reading) small town romance can take me away, at times, to what seems like a less complicated way of life. Don’t get me wrong, there are villains in small towns too. Where would the fun / challenge / growth be if everything was all life as seen through small-town rosy glasses?

The Prince’s Son

A first meet, royalty and nanny romance between a self-exiled prince, Ari Orula, with a royal chip on his shoulders and the local rancher’s daughter, Carla Peters, who rails against any man who tries to tell her what to do. When she tries to tell the prince how to raise his son, tempers flare and sparks fly.

Delsora Lowe writes small town sweet romances and contemporary westerns from the mountains of Colorado to the shores of Maine ~ cottages to cabins ~ 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, Cowboys of Mineral Springs, to be released in 2019 and 2020. And her daughter’s wedding and her son’s home, both on the coast of Maine, provided plentiful ideas for the Starlight Grille series (released in 2017 and 2018).
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Deb Noone said...

Thank you for having me on RTG today. I welcome comments on what your favorite genre is to write or read. Or anything else you want to discuss. The weather? It's snowing in Maine right now. Then temps plummet tomorrow, but luckily SUN!

Luanna Stewart said...

Hi Delsora, it's snowing here in Nova Scotia, too. Big, fluffy flakes collecting on the evergreens like powdered sugar atop a cake. But...this will all turn to rain this afternoon and then we'll be ankle deep in slush, ugh.

I love reading small town romances because I love living in a small town where everyone knows everyone. I feel welcomed and included in a way I never experienced in a large city. Though having everyone know your business can be annoying at times. I still remember the looks on our boys faces when they were younger and just starting to spread their wings with increased independence, and I told them that I might not see them misbehaving, but sure-as-shooting someone else will and they WILL let me know, LOL.


I love reading and writing small-town romances, and I love how you've incorporated your real-life experiences into yours.

Deb Noone said...

Luanna - thanks for stopping by. So true about getting lost in a city, even though the city was my hometown growing up, you are still anonymous. But small towns - NOT. Not only do they know your business, but sometimes it is the "wrong" business - the old rumor mill :-) We had tiny flakes of snow then a bit of icing on top of that. But sun shining now!

Susan Vaughan said...

I love small-town romances! Thanks for sharing all the reasons why. I can't wait to read The Prince's Son!

Deb Noone said...

Jennifer - Thanks and thanks for visiting. It is fun to put a new twist or embellish something you have experienced. I enjoy reading your small town books - just finished "Learning to Love" then went back and bought book 2. Somehow I missed that one in between 1 and 3 :-) Love this series.

Anna Taylor Sweringen said...

Great post. I love how small towns (for me city borough/neighborhood) location does lend itself to second chance romances because there is the element of shared past/histories.

Judith Ashley said...

Delsora, Just finished reading Debbie Macomber's "The Inn at Rose Harbor" set in her Cedar Cove, WA setting. I hadn't read some of her books for awhile but did remember long time residents who show up to welcome Jo Marie Rose and support her B&B. I do read small town romance but the idea of writing one is daunting. So many details to keep in mind ... how many blocks to the pharmacy, where is the park, library, restaurants, etc. I have enough challenges keeping the characters in the series consistent. lol

Deb Noone said...

It's funny, Judith. I think it is easier for me to remember location details than character details. But every time I add a new business or location, I add it to my character list. And usually when I write about small towns, I have a few towns in mind, where I merge the details to make my own town. I once used a description in a book (not yet published - still under the bed) of a café, and my critique partner who lived four hours away knew exactly what café in which town I referred to, even though said town was inland on a river and my made-up town was oceanside.

Deb Noone said...

Susan - thanks - it was been rewritten about two hundred times :-) since I first wrote the book.

Deb Noone said...

Anna - thanks so much for stopping by. I so agree about location lending itself to second-chance romances - one of my favorite sub-genres to write. And I also agree that small neighborhoods in a city can be used as effectively, since you are bound to run into people you know at the neighborhood café or the farmer's market in the area park, just as you do in small towns.

SusanD said...

Hey! I grew up in a small town, and yet, your blog has made me realize the place is a story gold mine. Never considered it that way.
I loved that people stood around after church and chatted, or dropped by the house to share a cup of coffee with my father, or stopped my mom while grocery-shopping.
I was always too anxious to leave. LOL. But many of my high school classmates still live there, and two of them now have a second-chance (well, it is actually fourth-chance for each) relationship.

Sarah Raplee said...

Hi Delsora, I enjoyed your thoughtful post. You nailed the small-town dynamic of "belonging" versus "no privacy." Loved your blurb and can't wait to read The Prince's Son! Great Cover and Title!

Deb Noone said...

It is certainly different from living in the city where I grew up. Now, in my small town, I know all the people who work the grocery store and coffee shop. A woman in the pharmacy, who I used to work with in another job years ago, took down my Woman's World story information and told all her co-workers and people in line that it would be in the magazine on stands tomorrow :-) It's the little things. I caught up with an old boss a few weeks ago in the grocery store, even though we worked together 30 miles from here. Then saw him again in the parking lot the other day. He said - you and I go to the same doctor. I could hear your laugh while I was at the doctor's office and knew it was you. Which of course made me laugh. Well, Maine is like a small town in that even though it is large in square miles, it has a small town feel, because you know people through work or volunteer work even though they live nine hours from you. So, yes, lots of fodder for stories. Glad you stopped by, Susan!

SusanD said...

Forgot to mention I love the new cover.

Deb Noone said...

Thanks Sarah and Susan - on cover. I'm very excited about it and excited to finally get this story out. It won several contest prizes in the past. But now I have rewritten and /or added to it, so the reader can be introduced to the hero in book two. Now to get to work on the next edit job for "The Rancher Needs A Wife." I'm aiming for early 2020.

Barbara Rae Robinson said...

I admire you for being able to write the small town contemporary romance. I did write one, years ago. And it was published. But I tend to write about people in cities mostly. Though much of my current book is set on the Oregon coast, in a small town. And it's romantic suspense. I seem to need the suspense to keep the story going. I was actually born in Los Angeles and lived in cities until moving to a small town in Oregon almost 50 years ago. Yet I've never felt like I belonged to the town where I live. Weird, I know.

Deb Noone said...

Oh, Barb - that is too bad. If you didn't have that house all taken care of I'd say move closer to the ocean. At least take a few more trips there, if you are able to find the time, between all the books you've put out and are putting out. But big cities have their own unique little neighborhoods that are also so much fun to write about. Even thought I mostly write small town, I always seem to have some city scenes thrown in too.

Author Gail Eastwood said...

Deb, great post! As someone else already said, you nailed the "small town" vibes and its inherent conflicts perfectly. Love the cover on the new book!

Deb Noone said...

Thanks Gail - Glad you could stop by. Talk about nailing small town vibes historically - I loved your Christmas book (Lord of Misrule) that was so different from the usual historicals. A great little town with many quirky and fun secondary characters (not to mention a sassy heroine and a yummy hero). Looking forward to seeing you this weekend.

Paty Jager said...

I enjoy writing and reading books set in small towns or rural areas. Your books all sound great. I need to get one read.

Barbara Strickland said...

I love your thinking.

Deb Noone said...

Catching up after being on the road to a conference yesterday - thanks Barbara and Paty for stopping by. I, too, do love reading small town stories of all kinds. And, as you can tell, writing them.

Maggie Lynch said...

I love small town romances for all the reasons you discussed. So far, I haven't written any of them only because the small towns I've briefly lived in were too small and felt limited in terms of ongoing series potential. I'm always afraid of falling into the murder-she-wrote syndrome. That is where a town that seemed to be populated by 100 people tops had the highest murder rate in the country. :)

All the things you cite as including in the book is so important in any book where a town or place is a character too--whether big city, medium city or small town. In the end, no matter the scope of the location (the entire universe or a small ranch in the middle of nowhere), the story revolves around the world as perceived by those characters with all its limitations or possibilities. That is what you do well in your stories and what makes them so loved.

Deb Noone said...

Thanks, Maggie. You are so right about the "universe" an author creates. No matter how big or how small, the setting details and characters populated within will turn that location into a character that adds to the story. I can name so many authors I go back to time and again, because of the small-town worlds they create. And with each new heroine and hero, you bring in more family and friends to write more stories about :-) And hopefully, none of them get murdered :-)