Monday, July 2, 2018

Writing What You Know ... Sort Of

By Guest Author Loretta Wheeler
Thanks to Loretta for stepping up to fill my first Monday of the month spot. I'm away for most of July, sitting on the dock of the bay, wasting time. Judy Penz Sheluk.
The phrase writing what you knowis almost a cliché for writers. But, I thought I’d address it a little differently this time, including a “sort of”in the title, since my stories in the Southern Breezes series have a ghost or two in them. I don’t really know any ghosts. I’ve had a couple of clairvoyants in my life that have, but I haven’t. Thank goodness. My ghosts in the Southern Breezes series are the friendly sort, but you know, they’re still ghosts. So, in being truthful, I really can’t say I know this side of things first hand, but I can say I’ve researched it well. And that’s where thesort of”, comes in.


Now, on the natural plane, I’ve either been for a visit to the areas I write about, or I live near them. In the Southern Breezes series, I purposely set the stories in Galveston so I could drive down at the drop of a hat if I needed to see something for myself. And as writers know, it isn’t just the visual that helps us with our story; it’s the taste, touch, smell and sound. Especially in Galveston. How do you write something set there without the sigh of the waves as the backdrop? 
So, living nearby is a definite plus for me. Of course, then I battle the desire to stay, or possibly move there, because the call of the ocean and the furling of banana trees blowing in the wind really makes you want to go all Tommy Bahamas.
But, even though I live close, there are still a lot of things I keep discovering about Galveston. And the pearls of information I find, I incorporate into the stories. For instance, did you know that the storm of 1900 not only devastated the island, but left its own unique recovery problems of which few are aware? One of the buildings they were trying to raise kept tilting from side to side each time they tried to lift it. The crew on one side would tighten the jackscrews to raise the building, but the crew on the other side could never match them at exactly the same level at the same time. Frustrated and exhausted, one of them finally came up with the idea that a drum could be used, setting the pace to turn the ropes at the same rhythm. When I heard that, I could hear the drum in my mind. And of course, that opened the door for one of my characters to come thundering through, drawn by the sound of the drum’s beat. I tell myself my character knew that and was just waiting for me to discover it. 

Like forgotten drum beats and changes in the terrain, Galveston has a unique history, filled with tales of the past and of hauntings. You can find stories of hauntings almost everywhere on the island, (something I did know). And because of that, you can also find them in my Southern Breezesseries, along with a scruffy dog named Charmin’, and a clairvoyant who helps the people deal with these highly spirited beings. But, just to keep you feeling comfortable, I can promise you’re going to like the ghosts, along with the dog, and the group of women who’ve returned to the island. The women are at that age of knowing who they are and what they do and don’t want. So they knew their storylines well, or maybe I should say they know them well until they met the ghosts. 


Loretta Wheeler lives in the south along with her Australian husband, their cat Lil’ Dickens, and their dog, Jack. Both pets are rescued fur-persons who are very much loved. Most of Loretta’s writing is set in southern locales, whether in the thriller or romance genre. Find her at http://author.lorettawheeler.com

34 comments:

  1. Thank you for allowing me to step inside your closet and slip on a pair of those stiletto's Judy! Talk about walking in someone else's shoes, it doesn't get much closer than this :) And, here's wishing you a fabulous trip as you watch that tide roll past that coveted dock. Most people in Houston would trade positions with you in a heartbeat. The heat here is certainly doing its usual number on us :)

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  2. Love your writing, Loretta! You just reminded me that I need to make that drive to Galveston to do research for my work in progress. I haven't visited there in years and miss the sound of those waves.

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  3. Hi, Laura :) I didn't know you were working on a piece set in Galveston...we'll have to think about driving in together! Thank you for stopping in, for leaving a comment and for your kind words regarding my writing. I can hear those Galveston waves calling, too :)

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  4. I agree that sometimes writing “what you know” can also mean “research until you know.” And I bet Galveston was a fun place to research. I love how you pulled the history of the island into this series. The location gives your stories a lot charm, mood, and character.

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  5. Oh, thank you, Dorlana :) I'm glad the stories drew you in...even though the air is compromised by the male ghosts' cigarette;) And, you're so right, although I've lived near Galveston forever, I still found things I never knew when I went on my latest tour of the island. Thanks for stopping by, gal :)

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  6. Hi, Loretta! Guess what? My sister bought a Galveston house last year. She is begging me to come and I want to but when cooler. Good to learn more about your writing. Hugs, vb

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    1. Hi, Vicki! Gal, you ought to go on down to the island. There's always a gulf breeze blowin'...and if you're in the AC'd house, you can dart to the verandah every once in awhile and listen to the ocean :) We even had turquoise water whirl in a couple of times this year :) Thanks for stopping by and keeping me company...maybe we'll pass each other on the beach soon :)

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  7. Hi Loretta,

    I so agree that knowing your setting adds a sense of reality to fiction whether it be mystery, romance, etc. I set my Kim Reynolds mystery series in Central NJ because I lived there for 40 years.

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  8. Hi, Loretta. I really enjoyed reading your book set in Galveston called THE VERANDAH. I thought you wrote the ghost part very well.

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    1. Thanks, Kay :) I know you aren't a fan of paranormal, so that's high praise coming from you :) I try to keep the paranormal as close to life as possible. These two in this series really want to be where they are, so for them, they were as close to real as possible...and Olivia really found her stride midway through when she learned how to materialize.

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  9. Hi, Jacqueline! It's so good to see you :) I so agree with you, I think, even though we can find out anything we want to know with Google, for the writer, to see, feel and touch the place lends the mood to the story so much more. Our Muse tends to linger throughout the piece :) Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

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  10. Hi Lo. I always enjoy your blog posts as well as your books. They are always intriguing and well researched.

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  11. Thank you, Cynthia! I'm so glad you enjoy the blog posts as much as the books. I tend to be casual in my blogs, like we're sitting together, sharing a coffee and whiling away the time :) I'm always happy to hear that readers enjoy that. Thanks so much for stopping by and spending some time with me :)

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  12. I absolutely agree, Lo. Adding little pieces of your life in your stories makes them stronger. Your love of the beach comes through in your writing. You must have been a mermaid in a former life.
    *hugs*
    ~June/JD

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  13. Laughing, J.D....ah, a nudge about Siren's Call and that Mermaid's tail (tale). I love it! Thanks for stopping by, you mad-hatter of typing. I know you're on a deadline AND wounded right now, so I appreciate you making time. Wishing you Godspeed with your next project, and your healing!

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  14. Hello, Loretta! Enjoyed your post because I've always loved Galveston which is why I've particularly enjoyed your stories set on the island.

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  15. Hi, Joan :) It's good to see you here :) Thanks for always coming to dabble your toes in the water of my Galveston books. There's always room for friends on the verandah :) So glad you found time to stop by and visit :)

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  16. Oh, Galveston, oh Galveston. It's such a great place to write about because there's so much history. I've got your book on my kindle. My next slow down, it's me and your book.

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  17. Hey, Loretta! I love how you've had so many interesting experiences and your "sorta" knows send you on research. I loved the Southern Breezes series and can't wait for the next one to come out :)

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    1. Hey, back atcha, Anna! It's great to see you here :) And, I'm so pleased you like the series...including the fish tale, Siren's Call :) I'm mid-stride with the next book in the series, so it should be releasing sometime this year. Thanks for stopping by!

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  18. Thank ya, C.C.! Let me know when your slow down hits, I wanna watch! lol So glad you were able to stop by in the midst of your busy schedule. The door's always open on The Verandah, and the Southern Breezes are always blowin' :)

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  19. Hi Loretta! What an interesting post. I've always been fascinated about the 1900 hurricane that devastated Galveston, although I also think the stories from it are very sad. Your blog almost makes me feel like I'm there on the shore.

    But I seriously hope I never meet a ghost anywhere besides in fiction!

    Nancy Eady
    workmomad@gmail.com

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Nancy:) I find the history of Galveston intriguing, too. And when you go down and take the tours, the ghost stories always seem to play a large part. If you decide to wander on The Verandah, you'll find the ghosts have very intriguing stories as well :)

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  20. Glad I read this article today, Loretta. You write fine stories and I've enjoyed everything of yours I've read.

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    1. I'm glad you read the post too, David. It's always nice to see you gracing my door :) You'll have to let me know what you think of my ghosts in this one :) They're much lighter than King's apparitions, but sometimes, it's nice to be able to sleep without the lights on, right? lol Thank you for dropping in! :)

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  21. Loretta, your stories are wonderful. I think I've read them all by now, so I can say that!!! Galveston is a fascinating city and I did not know about all the ghost stories. I must go check them out!

    Tessy

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    1. Hey, Tessy... Galveston is supposedly one of "The" most haunted towns around. It's because of the 1900 hurricane. You won't be disappointed if you find a book on the hauntings...of course, you may have to sleep with the light on! lol Thanks for stopping by!

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  22. Galveston is a family as well as a personal favorite, so it's only natural I love your stories. Seems like just yesterday we were down there, but it's been years! Too long.

    As to writing what you (I) know... I agree with some of the comments above. There are some places and times we can't know because they no longer exist. My historicals are case in point - but I sat down and researched until my eyes bled. Talked to a resident British history professional and let him double check me... I knew my readers expected it and I owed it to them and to the book itself.

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    1. Hi there, Jenny :) Long time no see :) Think we need to meet in Galveston again? :) And yes, I saw the research required to go in your books, and I know how thorough you are. You're one of "sort of" gals in my writer's groups...what we can't personally see or feel, we research until we're exhausted. Thanks for stopping by and strolling through Galveston again with me :)

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  23. Verandah is such a lovely word. Knowing your setting's so important and I agree a visit is always the best. I made a mistake recently of thinking I knew something about a town, which is quite near me, and postponing my visit. When I arrived, I found a goof that I'll have to fix in my manuscript! Grrr.

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    1. Verandahs and Southern Breezes are two of my favorite things, so I finally decided to place them in some of my works :) I'm glad you like the word as much as I do, Kathy :) You may find a lot of southernish words you like in the stories if you decide to drift down :) Thanks so much for stopping by...you're always welcome on The Verandah, gal!

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  24. I'm leaving a Thank You in here to all the gals who allowed me into their own type of closet filled with gorgeous stilettos! Especially to Judy, whose shoes I walked around in for a day. I loved playing dress-up in those sky-high heels, Sugar :)

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  25. Dear Loretta, you are a most welcome and entertaining guest. Hugs, Kay

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  26. Lo, I feel like We just had a Mint Julep on the veranda!! I so enjoy your writing and Galveston holds a special place in my heart. I have done extensive research on the island and always find it fascinating. I look forward to your next book...make it soon.

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