“Traveling to New Places Through Setting” comes to JPC Allen Writes from a new author to my site, Judith McNees. Judith uses her own backyard as the setting for her novels and describes her approach to transport readers there. Welcome, Judith!
One of my favorite parts about reading and writing fiction is getting to experience the beauty of nature through the written word. When I began plotting my first series, I had abundant experiences with which to choose a setting. I knew I wanted to take my readers somewhere beautiful. Fortunately, I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Tranquil Shores, Michigan, is a fictional town, but the descriptions of nature throughout the series are primarily drawn from my own experiences while living in Michigan my entire life.
With five of the world’s largest freshwater lakes, which create about 3,200 miles of coastline, over three hundred waterfalls, about five hundred islands, six state forests, four seasons, and more, Michigan has an overwhelming amount of nature to write about.
Part of writing nature is allowing readers to experience the different kinds of weather of each season. For example, my debut novel, A Heart to Cherish, takes place over summer. One scene from that novel describes the heat and humidity of July in vivid detail. If you’ve ever stepped outside your home and experienced humidity that felt like a solid wall, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. I also described the beauty of a Lake Michigan sunrise, the scent of water, sand, and dune grass, and even the breeze carrying the hum of crickets as fireflies blink through flowers and trees during twilight.
In book two of the series, A Heart to Trust, the story picks up in late fall and transitions to winter as the story goes on. My readers experience the cold winds of late fall, the enchantment of the first snow flurries of the season, and the beauty of the first blanket of snow accumulation. Here, when it gets cold enough, we can “see” our breath, and any exposed skin, such as on cheeks and noses, turns red.
I’ve found that engaging as many of the senses as possible makes the setting come alive for readers. They may never come to Michigan, but through my stories, they can experience what it’s like to stroll along Lake Michigan or take a horseback ride through the snow. When you’re in nature, there are always smells, such as the scent of drying leaves in autumn or the earthy smell that comes just after rainfall. There are sounds like the wind sighing through the trees, waves gently crashing along the shore of Lake Michigan, or feet crunching through newly fallen snow. You can feel the heat of the sun or the cold chill of wind whipping through your hair.
I’ve even used beautiful landmarks to acquaint my readers with different feelings my characters might experience. For example, one of my characters describes the feeling of infatuation as similar to standing at the top of a fifty-foot waterfall and looking over. Another character describes the experience of falling in love as similar to standing atop Castle Rock in early spring and watching the large chunks of ice floating along the shore of Lake Superior. Breathtaking but potentially deadly.
Little details like these bring our readers to places they’ve never been to experience the beauty and wonder for themselves. It is always a joy to have readers from Michigan tell other readers that the descriptions of my lovely home state are spot on. If a reader has been bit by the travel bug as I have, it’s one great way to travel without leaving home!
Can two broken hearts learn to trust each other…and God?
Grace Morgan has a closely guarded secret. One that also makes her good at guarding her heart. After all, she has what she needs to be content. She won’t make the mistake of falling for another man at work…until the hunky new guy she’s trying not to notice moves in across the hall.
Tyler Danby has a secret, too. Left by his wife, who takes away everything he cares about, he’s nursing his wounds and starting over. When he strikes up a friendship with his quirky neighbor, he wonders whether God might be giving him a second chance at love.
Secrets have a way of coming out. And broken trust is hard to restore.
Contemporary Christian romance author Judith McNees lives in southwestern Michigan with her husband and four of their seven children, along with their three dogs. Her family loves to travel together, but she still believes that her home state is one of the most beautiful states there is. She is a proud stay-at-home mom, stepmom, foster mom, adoptive mom, and grandma, which gives her plenty of fodder for her writing. She holds a B.A. in English from Western Michigan University and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. You can connect with her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads, and Amazon.