Friday, June 25, 2010

Around the World with Guest Blogger: Nancy Lennea

Welcome debut author Nancy Lennea and win a copy of her tennis romance Secret Love Match!

Here's a message from Nancy and her advice about choosing where in the world to set your story...

I am excited to be here! Secret Love Match is my debut novel so I am riding a whirlwind of joy mixed with a spoonful of stress. I love it! Please enter my contest (see below). I love giving stuff away almost as much as I love receiving stuff.


When I plotted my contemporary romance, Secret Love Match, I was living in rural New Hampshire. I had recently written two manuscripts set in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, but I had the urge for something different; something more sophisticated. Personally, I would love to set a story in Rome, Paris, or Monte Carlo. Too bad the only other countries I have traveled through are Canada and Bermuda (and those trips were a LONG time ago.)

Does the location of a story make or break it? It can. If your hero and heroine are rich, stylish, successful people, readers also want to believe they are smart enough to live in an exciting city or are relaxing on a Caribbean island. A romantic story plot might do okay in a Pittsburgh alley, or along a creek in Alabama.

Everything depends on what the author does with the location and how she weaves this information into her book. James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small would have been a totally different story if his veterinary practice was located in the stews of London. Gone With the Wind might not have enjoyed the same impact if Tara stood along the Mississippi River, north of St. Louis.

Since I grew up on Long Island, about 25 miles from New York City, the city has always held a special spot in my heart. I had relatives working in the city on 9/11. Who will ever forget the horror? I recall, with fond memories, the parks, the zoo, and the museums so decided to set a novel in the city. I also visited Baltimore, Maryland many times in my capacity as assistant manager of a hardware store. The twice-annual convention gave me the opportunity to walk around its famous Inner Harbor full of shops, water taxis, tour boats, restaurants, and the Aquarium. This area is also featured in my book.

These cities gave me plenty of ideas to throw at my characters…a first date at New York’s Hayden Planetarium; an attempted mugging in a Baltimore park; an attempted kidnapping on a New York City street; and a sensual love scene in a penthouse pool.

Would I set a story in a strange city if my publisher asked me to? I am confident the internet, and my local library, will always provide an avenue to research any location. But, there is nothing like setting foot in the place you want to write about. This is one reason I have set my sights on visiting Scotland, which can only help me with my Scottish historical novels.

My next book from Red Rose Publishing is a romantic suspense set in a college town alongside a river and huge mountain. I went to college in such a town and it hasn’t changed much. I refresh my memory by visiting each fall on our way to the New Hampshire Highland Games in Lincoln, NH. ( Our family has volunteered for decades. Once we decided to move south, we agreed to continue traveling north each September to help out.

Besides a city, town, state, or country as a unique setting, the business, school, outdoor area, or water you choose in which to place your characters can mean a great story… or dullsville. A dinghy might work for Hemingway, but I can picture my Grandfather’s thirty-six-foot long Chris Craft yacht (it was a big boat to a little girl). We spent hours polishing the chrome handrails and wood cabinets and doors. We played in the bunks then climbed out the overhead porthole. We ate lunch in the galley and caught shrimp with nets off the stern. I remember chugging out of their canal in Amityville, NY on our way toward the ocean. I don’t think we ever left Great South Bay, but I was little and it was all an adventure to me.

I set another story in two opposite locations. I created two successful New Yorkers and had them meet up at a small campground in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Sticking my characters ‘out of their element’ and letting my readers watch them cope opened up several plot lines for me. Authors have to use their imaginations at times, but the use of actual locations gives your reader a taste of a place they might never get a chance to visit.

New locations pop up all the time. I just started working on a story set here in Raleigh. Our local art museum shut down for a long time as they built a whole new wing. It is unlike anything I have experienced and their outdoor exhibits are just as surprising. The building is light and airy as opposed to stone and dark shadows. With the dozens of bronze statues by the famed Auguste Rodin everywhere I looked, how could I not come up with a great story?

The next time you pick up a book, please gauge your reaction to the location an author places her characters. Does the story thrill you more than normal because it is set in a city you always wanted to visit? Does a quieter country locale or breathtaking beach resort make the plot pop? Think about it. In the meantime, enjoy reading!

A Note from the Book Boost: Thanks Nancy and CONGRATS on the new release! Everyone, Nancy will have our Book of the Month feature here at the blog in July and will be back to discuss another new release. Be sure to come back for more! Now, please tell us about your book!


Rebecca Delacourt has played and taught tennis for the last three years. At twenty-one, she knows what she wants. Without help from her wealthy parents, she buys a condo in Glen Cove, NY and plans to be on the Olympic Tennis team. She has no time for men, marriage, or children. Her mother gave up her acting career when she became pregnant with older sister, Laney, whose illegitimate son is mute due to recent emotional trauma. Rebecca still manages to squeak out some time for her charity work for breast cancer research in Baltimore every year.

Taylor, a former TV actor, notices Becka. She knows him—she’s dreamed of his TV persona for years. They meet at her parent’s country club. He thinks he’s found gold in the athletic blond. After beating him at tennis he meets her parents. Too bad he knows them—a former co-star, and the man helping get him auditions.

Her sister moves in—thwarting any privacy. She’s hiding out and is attacked. Taylor finds himself falling for Becka. Will he change his arrogant ways, save her nephew from kidnappers, and realize she’s the one? Becka wonders if dreams can still be reached with someone beside her. Will they reach their dreams together?


Tendrils of steam swirled up from the coffee Becka stirred while she stared out over the water of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. She tried to think of anything but the brooding man sitting beside her. The curvy neon lights of the aquarium mimicked ocean waves.

At that moment she swore to lie on a beach before her time ran out. She ran to this meeting, to that event, and back again without rest. What would it all mean if she disappeared from this earth tomorrow? Small as it is, her charity work would be her legacy. Charlotte excused herself, startling her from her reverie.

“I’m gonna grab a cab home.”

Taylor jumped to his feet. “Wait a minute. I’ll take—”

“No. I am winning this argument. I know most of these cab drivers and I’ll be just fine. You two stay and finish your coffee.”

After thanking him for dinner, Charlotte planted a friendly peck on her cheek and waved goodbye. Taylor sat back down. She peeked at her watch

Only eight o’clock, but I’ve been up since dawn.

The combination of sleep deprivation and sexual tension won out. Images of falling asleep in his arms surprised her, especially when he suddenly spoke to her over his mug of Irish coffee.

“Can you point me to a hotel? I neglected to make arrangements.”

“Sure. Let me check with my hotel. I reserve a bank of rooms for celebrities. It’s only a few blocks away. A nice walk would do me good.”

Taylor paid the bill. She didn’t argue this time. Following him, he led her down the stairs and onto the brick walkway. Music blared from a cabin cruiser docked twenty feet away. She waited until they neared the waterfall before continuing their conversation. The minutes gave her a chance to calm the lust causing havoc with her sense of right and wrong.

“Do you have a suitcase?”

“I neglected to pack one. I didn’t plan any of this.”

“That sounds so unlike you.”

“How so?”

“I pegged you as a man of schedules and discipline.”

“Surprise! Anyway, if you can come up with a toothbrush, I can get by.”

“My hotel is very resourceful and they have a well-stocked gift shop. If you’re up to it, we can walk around the park first. It’s a beautiful night. Even though I’m weary, I’m ashamed to admit I have some pent-up frustrations to work out.” She hooked arms with Taylor and ignored his open mouth response.

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SiNn said...

sounds awesome for sure ! congrats on the new release

honestly i think location usually inhances a book for me sometimes tho i love to read abouta certain location but it really just makes me want to read it more if its a location that i havent bene to or read about

Nancy Lennea said...

Locations can and do set the mood of a story as well. Thanks!

Debby said...

Your book sounds great!! Congrats on the release. May you have many more,

K.T. Bishop said...

Always love it when someone writes a romance novel that revolves around sports.

Steve said...

I've always dreamed of living in an interesting place, really getting to know it, and writing a book based on it, then moving to another interesting place. Someday, maybe :)

Best of luck with your writing Nancy. I look forward to reading your work.

Venus said...

This looks good and just in time for Wimbledon :-)

Tamsyn said...

Congrats on your release. Love the blurb and the teaser. Sounds like a great book.

DeanY said...

I don't think you have to have your characters live in a metro area to have the book be exciting. I think you can make it with them living in rural areas, which many do, and still have some lovely backdrops for the characters.

I love reading about places I've been and places I'd like to go.

Nancy Lennea said...

Dear DeanY; I understand your comment and want you to know that my next book from Red rose Publishing takes place in a small New England college town. Destiny's Mountain is a romantic suspense and depicts life in a small town.

Gieselle said...

Great excerpt...can't wait to read the book.


Sounds like a great books. Congrats and good luck.


She said...

Location can become a character in a story. If the author and reader both know the city, it can be interesting for the reader to see how accurate the author is regarding the location. My reading experience is enhanced when the author gets my city right. When the author is wrong then it diminishes the story for me because I focus so much on the location I miss what the author is telling me about the characters or relationship.

Gabby said...

I've always appreciated a good story that has start in a beautiful place, because for me since I don't get to travel a lot that's the only way I can travel freely for now.

I just got done reading a book that was set in Boston Mass. Which was even better since I'm originally from around that area. I love books that take me to different places!