Friday, August 10, 2012

Kandy Shepherd - Setting the Scene


How important is setting to you in a novel? As a reader, I’ve always enjoyed books set in different parts of the world. I’ve probably learned more from novels than I have from geography or history lessons!

I love to travel, and visiting places I’ve read about in books is one of my favorite things to do. Visiting new places also inspires my own writing—and helps me get the details of the setting right. How lucky we writers are to be able to travel and count it as research!

What kind of hero or heroine would live in a house in this amazing setting? Mendocino, California.

 I just returned from a trip to California, that turned into a fact-finding mission for my stories. We started off in Anaheim for the Romance Writers of America national convention, which was as fabulous as always.

An artistic water stop outside the Mountainsong Galleries in dog-friendly Carmel-By-The-Sea.  I like writing dogs in my stories--could this inspire a scene?

Then we set off on the road trip. We visited Santa Barbara (what a beautiful town!); the quaint Danish village of Solvang; charming Cambria; Carmel (my third visit); then drove north to visit friends in Shasta County via San Francisco.

The car he or she drives can help define a character. I love this one parked at Carmel-By-The-Sea. 


We drove on  the coast-hugging Highway 1 to make the most of the awe-inspiring scenery (when it wasn’t shrouded in fog, that is!) Point Reyes, Elk, and Mendocino were highlights.

This was the view from our room at the Greenwood Pier Inn at Elk, California.  I'm sure I'm not the first writer to be inspired by this delightful place with its magnificent views and beautiful gardens.

 It always amazes me the things can catch the writerly imagination—from the house a character might live in, to the work they do, to the pets they might have, or quirky details that can add life to a story.

This pony grazing in a field of daisies in the Fall River Valley, California, might be just the horsey character I need for one of my stories.

On this trip, I found just what I needed for the story I am currently writing—but I won’t jinx myself by telling you about it just yet. I also found a whole lot of inspiration for new characters and new stories.

This tells me the person who set this scene near their front door has a warm and welcoming heart - the kind of heroine I want to write.

We finished up in the beautiful Fall River Valley to stay with our friends who farm wild rice. They also produce a delicious chocolate bar made with puffed wild rice and Belgian chocolate. The crunch and flavor the wild rice adds to the chocolate truly is a taste sensation.

Wild rice growing in the Fall River Valley, CA. I love wild rice whichever way it's cooked but its particularly toothsome added to chocolate!

 Is there a setting you particularly like in a book, movie or TV show? Or one you don’t like? Have you visited a place you’ll never forget? I'd love to hear from you!

My friends produce this chocolate from the wild rice grown in their valley. I'm hoarding my bar, but I don't know how much long I can hold out until I eat it!


Please leave a comment to be in the draw to win one of three bars of Fall River Wild Rice Dark Belgian Chocolate that retail for $4.50 each. I'm sorry, but this prize can only be sent to addresses in the USA. Be sure to leave your email address with your comment.

Kandy Shepherd writes fun, feel-good fiction. She is the author of The Castaway Bride (set on a tropical island in the Pacific); Something About Joe, (set on the harbor in Sydney, Australia); Love is a Four-Legged Word and Home Is Where the Bark Is (both set in San Francisco.)

Visit Kandy at her website

25 comments:

  1. The pictures and settings were lovely. One of my favorite places is Chincateague, Virginia where the wild horses are.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

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    1. Hi Maureen, Chincateague looks absolutely wonderful ( I Googled it!). It's been added to my wish list--and my horse crazy daughter would love it too.

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  2. Thanks for this lovely post and your great photos which capture the place perfectly and beautifully. A setting in a book that I loved reading about was a small town in Colorado. Yes, I visited a beach town in Italy that was quaint, charming and very special, Levanto. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Levanto looks beautiful, traveler, no wonder you found it memorable. I would love to go there!

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  3. I enjoyed your post and the locales are exceptional. What interesting pictures. When books depict a certain area it makes it very interesting and one that I thought was well done was a place in Spain that was described vividly. When I visited the Canadian Rockies in Alberta I was more than impressed. Majestic and amazing. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks petite, I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. To visit the Canadian Rockies is on my wish list.

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  4. What beautiful pictures. I'm re-watching Veronica Mars and I'm sure the view of the ocean in your first picture at Mendocino, CA is the same view shown in a recent episode of Season one. I've never read your books, but I like the fact they are set in various places around the world. Thanks for the giveaway.

    kareninnc at gmail dot com

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    1. Hi Karen, I'm glad you liked the pictures. I loved Veronica Mars--you've made me want to get Season One and start watching it all over again. I'll be watching out for that view!

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  5. The most distinctive place I have travelled through in terms of landscape holds my imagination. It is the Painted Hills in Oregon. Very dry, low population and gorgeous land.

    little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

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    1. Wow, Lil, those Painted Hills look amazing--another destination to add to my wish list!

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  6. Texas has a great variety of scenic areas,
    but three favorites are South Padre Island,
    the vineyards of the Hill Country, and Big
    Bend National Park.

    Pat C.

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    1. Hi Pat, I would love to see more of Texas. Your suggestions sound like the places to go!

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  7. I love reading stories with settings that I've never traveled to before. Small towns are a favorite, but it is mainly the way the setting acts as a character that I love.

    lenikaye@yahoo.com

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    1. Excellent point, Leni, you've put that so well. A setting can become a character all on its own and that is when the author has really succeeded!

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  8. Kandy, welcome home! I love the photos - really atmospheric. I love Carmel too - I did a day trip from San Francisco when I was there in 2008 for RWA and thought that coastline was utterly spectacular. Still remember the noisy smelly sea lions! Looking forward to reading your new stories! Sounds like you've brought a bucketful of inspiration home with you!

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    1. Hey, Anna, thanks for calling by. Isn't Carmel divine? I loved it and the coastline is so spectacular. I'm glad you're looking forward to reading my new stories--gives me an incentive to finish them!

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  9. Oh, Kandy, what gorgeous photos! Welcome back! I'd love to do that trip up the coast again--the first and only time was when I was 15. I was awestruck by all that natural beauty.

    I'm making my way home tonight. Very sad to leave. California has been wonderful.

    x

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    1. I'm so glad you like the photos, Vanessa. I've decided the best way around the copyright issue of putting photos online is to use my own! The unspoiled beauty of that coastline is truly awe-inspiring, isn't it.
      I'm glad to hear you had such wonderful adventures in California. Have a safe trip home!

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  10. Kandy, wild rice and chocolate has my tastebuds curious.

    Love the photos. Thank you for sharing. I can see why the trip provided lots of inspirational ideas. I hope you get to pursue them in your next book. I find setting very important - not that I buy a book because of the setting, but I do like to feel I'm in a particular place that's real in the story.

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    1. Hi Annie, trust me, the wild rice and chocolate is a delicious combination - and quite unique. I love the settings in your books and enjoy it when you blog about your trips. I have to say, you inspired me!

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  11. Those are great photos. Thanks for sharing them with us. I love reading and when I'm transported to the place I'm reading about in a book because the descriptions are so vivid, I really love that. Living in a pretty dry place like Las Vegas, I don't often get to see snow so I like reading about snow covered this and snow covered that in stories.

    miztik_rose@yahoo.com

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    1. Hi Mary, snow can be so romantic, can't it? I've never lived in a climate where it snows for months and both kids and parents go stir crazy being stuck indoors (or so my friends tell me!) so I have the full illusion of the romance of it all!
      So glad you liked the photos.

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  12. Thanks so much, everyone, for your interesting comments.

    The winners of the Fall River Wild Rice Dark Chocolate Bars are Karen H, Leni and Mary.

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  13. Just found the email telling me I was one of the winners! Thank you so much! Can't wait to try that yummy looking chocolate. Congratulations to the other winners too!

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  14. Thank you so much! Replied to your email and congrats to the other winners.

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