The First Signs of Winter

Posted by Judy | 9:18 AM | 14 comments »

The First Signs of Winter
As some of you may know, I’ve recently moved from Florida to Boise, Idaho. I looked forward to being with my family, and it has been wonderful being near beloved children, nieces and grandchildren. What I wasn’t looking forward to was enduring a winter.

Yesterday was the first real rainy day since we arrived in Boise in July. It felt quite cozy inside the house while cold rain spread across the valley. When I went outside to do errands, I looked up at the foothills and there, at the highest peaks, was snow. Guess what! It was beautiful.
This got me to thinking about the importance of setting in a book. Where we place our characters and their reactions to it are tremendous indicators of character--things we can build on.

I write fantasy for children and I love creating a challenging world for them. In one of my stories, the hero is confronted by a huge, hairy spider, guarding the cave of the mystical Man of the Mountain. Because I, myself, freak over spiders, it was difficult to write the scene where the spider entraps the hero’s companion and how the hero must save him. But I used the setting to bring out the hero’s character and his growth. (Other scenes were easier! LOL)
As the writer, we need to make a character’s response to a setting be true to his/her own experiences. For instance, in a romance, if a woman grew up in the crowded city and has always wanted to live in the country, where she could feel freer, a HEA ending, showing her on a ranch with the man she loves has tremendous impact on the reader. Not only is the heroine satisfied by the romance but she is in a setting where she can thrive. I realize I’ve made this overly simple, but I’m sure you get my point.

Have there been particular books you’ve loved because of their settings and the impact on the characters?   


  1. Pamela Varnado // October 24, 2012 at 10:44 AM  

    Judy, wrap up and stay warm in Boise. As for settings, my critique partner (Constance Gillam)just published a young adult novel titled, The Fifth Realm. It's set in New Orleans. Her descrptions of the city stirred strong emotions in me, especially the way she portrayed life on the bayou.
    Like you, I'm terrified of spiders. Your children's story sounds like something I'd love to read. You've probably already told me this, and I apologize for asking again, but what is the title of the book and where can I purchase it. My grandsons LOVE spiders, so your story will make a wonderful Christmas present.

  2. Pamela Varnado // October 24, 2012 at 10:47 AM  

    Oops, I need to make a correction. Constance's book is The 5th Realm, not The fifth Realm.

  3. Mary Marvella // October 24, 2012 at 11:57 AM  

    Judy, I have lived in Boston and Mexico Missouri and I won't leave the South again! 'Course I don't have grand babies either.

    My books are always set in the South, because I love the traditions and values here. My roots are deep!

    Love the sound of your children's books.

  4. Connie Gillam // October 24, 2012 at 12:25 PM  


    I'm glad you're closer to your grandkids. Mine are precious to me.

    I mentioned on my facebook author's page that setting is another character. It affects the mood of the character and the tone of the story. How we respond and the choices we make on a day to day basis are rooted in the setting we live in. I love writing about beautiful cities and places within that city. It makes a book come alive for me.

  5. Beth Trissel // October 24, 2012 at 1:05 PM  

    I like winter, just not when it's too long. Great reading and writing weather. Settings are vital to me both as an author and a reader.

  6. Barbara Monajem // October 24, 2012 at 1:53 PM  

    Great topic! I agree with what Pam said about New Orleans (and Connie's fabulous book) -- N.O. is a great setting, and I made up a small town something like the French Quarter there for my Bayou Gavotte series.

    One of my favorite series as a child was the books by Arthur Ransome about the Lake District in England. I went there as a child and would love to go again.

  7. Mary Ricksen // October 24, 2012 at 6:24 PM  

    One of my favorite examples of a book that grabbed me because of the setting, was Voyager, by Diana Gabaldon. I wanted to be there and she put me there! I so get it, Judy!

  8. Anonymous // October 24, 2012 at 9:19 PM  

    Blogger hates Scarlet, it won't let her post! So now the masked lady is anonymous as well. Judy, I think writing childrens book would be a great challenge. I don't think I could bring myself to write for children. I'm looking forwrd to fall and cooler weather, but no winter. Love the Spring and Fall each year myself.


  9. Judy // October 25, 2012 at 9:24 AM  

    Pam, That's so sweet. My story is still out to editors and agents. Wish you were one so I could sell it to you! LOL

  10. Judy // October 25, 2012 at 9:25 AM  

    Mary, you have a true Southern voice which comes through in your stories...

  11. Judy // October 25, 2012 at 9:26 AM  

    Beth, your beautiful Shendendoah Valley shines in your books and even your posts on this blog!

  12. Judy // October 25, 2012 at 9:27 AM  

    Barbara, I read Connie's book and loved it and experiencing the setting of N.O. We've been there a couple of times and she brought it alive. Now I know why History plays such an important part in your books. Travel as a child makes a big difference in a life.

  13. Judy // October 25, 2012 at 9:28 AM  

    Mary, I love discovering places in books and traveling to them through its words...Yes, you do get it!! LOL

  14. Josie // October 25, 2012 at 12:56 PM  

    I believe that the setting of a book is almost as important as the characters. For some reason, all my books begin in October, then get cold as winter approaches, (dark moment) then spring appears for our HEA.