Guest Blogger: Jennifer Shirk

Hi, all! Jennifer here!

Thanks so much to Carol for hosting me today! This is so much fun to be somewhere else for a change. :-)

I'm sitting on my deck right now--although not for long because it's getting HOT. But I'm staying somewhat cool with my favorite summer cocktail: 
the pineapple chili margarita! (try this recipe. You won't be sorry) 

Anyhew, being out here brings my mind to SETTINGS in stories we write. I tend to place all my romances in seaside surroundings. Why? Probably because I love the beach--and also because I live by the beach. (I go with what I know)

BUT... settings not only create at atmosphere for the reader but it can be used as a marketing tool as well. I know writers don't like to think that far ahead, but that's what I've decided to do now. Writing stories set in fake beach resorts give me an advantage in my home town because I actually live in a beach resort. When I do book signings people tend to pick up my book since it involves an area similar to where they're vacationing, regardless of the genre I write. 

Now, I'm actually thinking of taking this to a new level with my next book and use the REAL setting of my hometown to create an even bigger marketing tool. I'm counting on my local book sellers wanting to help market a book that is set where people are on vacation. (at least that's what they've told me! :))

So think about your setting for more than just your story. Your setting can also help promote your book.

My recent book GEORGIE ON HIS MIND is set in a beach town and Booklist recently had this to say about it:
"It’s the mature way Walt responds to Georgie’s shenanigans that make this romance a standout. Shirk’s novel is as breezy and charming as Georgie’s seaside surroundings, and her sweet love affair with Walt will linger in the reader’s mind long after the tale is told." From Booklist --Courtney Jones

Georgie Mayer has no boyfriend and rarely goes out. In short, she needs a life. Since she's graduated college and returned back home, her brother's protectiveness has been in overdrive, and she hasn't been able to have any fun, never mind get a date. 

So what's a poor particularly attractive girl to do in a situation like this? The only thing she can do: find him a woman!

He'll thank her for it in the end. That is, if his best friend Walt Somers would stop interfering with her plans. The handsome pharmacist has made no secret that he doesn't approve of what she's up to. Unfortunately, having Walt hanging around does strange things to her mind, and suddenly she can't help but take a healthy interest in him. But how can Georgie entertain thoughts of the two of them together when Walt still treats her like his best friend's little sister?

Avilable thru
Amazon and a library near you. :-)

Thanks again for having me, Carol!

WRITERS:Do you live in an unusual or popular town? Have you thought about creating your own book around that setting?

READERS: Do you have a setting you prefer in books you read? 

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Thanks so much, Jennifer, for being my guest today on Under the Tiki Hut. I know everyone is happy to see you!


Janet, said…
Great post and some good ideas to consider. Your book sounds like a lot of fun to read. Most of my settings have been in the country. Maybe I should be a little more specific and pick a famous country setting such as a national park area. I guess that would make them want to sell the book in their souvenir shops. :o)
Joanne said…
My stories' settings are a compilation of my favorite places to be. I find it's easier to write about not only what we love, but places we love too. So when I sit down to write, I'm always where I want to be, literally and creatively :)
Anonymous said…
I tend to set my works in small towns. I live in a small town and love the crazy inner workings that go on. However, in my writing, I keep them fictional. I'd have to think really hard if I wanted to set a book in the town I live in. Great post though - food for thought!
Real settings are tricky if you don't live there (I write about Memphis and have had to do a lot of research and be very careful), but they can be great ways to pull in more readers. Otherwise, I stick to made-up towns where no one will write to me about inconsistencies!
Jessica Nelson said…
Nope, I don't care about settings. But you're right, they're a marketing tool. Lately I've been writing FL books because they require less research. *grin* Have you heard of Summerside Press? Their books are all set in uniquely named places. Congrats on the review!!
Jennifer Shirk said…
Janet: Oooh, selling a book in souvenir shops is great thinking!

Joanne: Yes, it really helps to love the place you're writing about. (I do love the beach) :-)

Tracey: I know what you mean about small towns. My town is small (except in the summer) and you can get a lot of book fodder here. LOL

Elizabeth: Yes, it is tricky to write about a real town you know little about. I'm not one for research either.

Jessica: No, never heard of Summerside Press. Will check them out!
Bossy Betty said…
I live in what could be considered a very boring place. My favorite settings are small southern towns!
Nina Croft said…
I live on a mountain and there's nobody else here - so not sure people would identify with it - but I might have a go anyway.
Off now to see if I can scrounge up enough ingredients to make one of those pineapple margaritas
VR Barkowski said…
Great post, Jennifer! Setting is key in my stories, and I want to be able to visit the locations I write about. So I set my trilogy in the Bay Area, where I was living when I started to write the books. Only problem? Half way through, I moved to Atlanta. :-P

As a reader, I enjoy books set in my two favorite cities: Paris and New Orleans.
Judith Leger said…
I live in a college town. Have I ever considered writing a book with that as a main focus of the romance? No. I hear too much from my students and honestly, fact can be a lot more fantastic than fiction.

What I do is write fantasy, and from my reviews, I do this pretty good. My contemporaries have rodeo aspects in them. The university rodeo team is in my office. Love rodeoing so it was a natural to put that in my books.
Unknown said…
As a matter of fact, I have recently started thinking about using where I live as more of a setting. Since I love small town contemps - why not use my own (just change the names to protect the innocent and all that jazz!)
Julie Flanders said…
Hi, Jennifer!

I love reading stories that are set in a beach area, as I love the beach but only get to travel there once in a while. Your book sounds like a fun and charming read to me, and I will be sure to check it out.

Great post!
Linda G. said…
I live in a suburb of DC. Can't get much stranger than that. ;)
Jennifer Shirk said…
Betty: I cannot believe you live in a boring town!!

Nina: Enjoy that drink!

VR: too funny about you moving away before finishing the book!
I love to read about Paris and New Orleans too. (although never been to Paris)
Jennifer Shirk said…
Debora: I thought I heard at Nationals that publishers were looking for small town contemporaries. Do it!

Linda: I bet you've got a lot of good stories there!

Julie: thank you!

Judith: that is so true that truth is stranger than fiction!
Elspeth Futcher said…
I've considered placing a romantic comedy in a town that I actually have been in. I'm not sure. Usually my settings are fictional, but since this project would be a change of genre for me, why not change the genre of the setting at the same time?
I love stories set on or near a beach and GEORGIE ON HIS MIND sounds great!
My books are set in outer space. I wonder if the MIR Space Station bookstore would stock them?
Anonymous said…
Great post! I generally pick fall weather or very rainy seasons for my books...hmmm, I wonder what that means, LOL! ;)
Tere Kirkland said…
I live in New Orleans, which is where my (hopefully) debut novel is set. It's so easy to incorporate setting into the story if you're so familiar with it. Making the characters interact with the setting, that's the key to giving it atmosphere.

Great post!
Michelle Fayard said…
As I was writing the query letter for my first historical YA, The Underground Gift, I can't believe I almost forgot to mention that at the time I started writing the book I lived only minutes away from where the plot takes place--Parkville, Missouri, one of the most notorious pro-slavery towns on the Kansas-Missouri border. The setting for my second book is based on a town in the foothill of the Ozark Mountains where I once spent several years.

Thank you very much, Carol, for inviting Jennifer to your blog; this is an excellent guest post. I'm glad to be a new follower.

Carol Kilgore said…
I'm thrilled to see so many new faces here. Thanks for stopping by. Feel free to stop in, kick off your flip flops, and have a cool drink here any time.
Tamika: said…
Hi Ladies! This beautiful site makes me long for a vacation!

Great interview:)
notesfromnadir said…
Really a helpful interview. Setting is important & you gotta feel it to write it.

I need to set a book in Hawaii as that's a fine place to be!
Anonymous said…
Wonderful ideas. Thanks for sharing.
Tami Brothers said…
Hi Jennifer! Never thought this deep about my setting before. I like the idea of being able to market the book by combining the location. I am definitely going to have to dig deeper into this idea.

The book sounds great. Am headed over to check it out now.

Maria Zannini said…
That's putting your finger on the pulse of the reader. Great idea!
Lydia Kang said…
The book looks great!
My town isn't particularly weird or popular. But you never know, it could still be an exciting location in a story. :)
Anonymous said…
Georgie sounds like a fun read. I have one of each. My first book was set in downtown Toronto Canada where I live. My second book was set in a fictional town modeled on the small town near my summer home. I've done a lot of work on my website selling my small town. Let's hope it pays off.
LR said…
Margarita sounds tantalizing. Will check out recipe now.

I LOVE seaside books. That's what I write and what I love to read. Anything remotely oceanic or beachy on a cover draws me immediately.
Chelle Sandell said…
Great post! Yep...I was born and raised around in small towns and western settings. Guess what I write?! LOL. Small town contemps with western settings. ;)
Jennifer Shirk said…
Wow, so many cool comments! Thanks so much!

Cynthia: Thx for your kind words.

Alex: LOL! You never know...

LR: I'm telling you, you'll LOVE that drink!

Chelle: Ha! You write what you know. :-)
Anonymous said…
My protagonist and his friends live in the area I live in and they frequent real establishments such as bars and restaurants. I think its easier to develop the setting this way and make it more believable.
What a fascinating topic for a post. I agree that setting is an important element to a story and think the idea to consider it for marketing is brilliant.
I live in the Midwest--in the Show Me State of Missouri--a great place for a writer and the setting for most of my short stories.
Donna V.
TheBookGirl said…
My favorite settings are the South and the beach...
Rula Sinara said…
I like writing about settings I've lived in because I think I can bring something to the reader's experience that I can't duplicate from setting research alone. Funny though, I do like reading about settings I have not lived in because I get to experience/learn about a new place.
Arlee Bird said…
Never thought of using setting for promotional purposes--What a terrific idea! I'm going to have to think of some really cool places to write about.

Tossing It Out
Clarissa Yip said…
Great post! Thank you for all the great ideas! Off to go think about setting...
Anonymous said…
Since I write memoir or autobiographical fiction, I obviously set my stories in the places where I lived! I find I have to write about what I know, people I know and settings I know. Which means I could do some stories set in Hawaii as well as in Utah and Virginia, since I lived in Hawaii for a year and have a "feel" for that time and place. Jennifer's take on setting as a means to promote your book is right on. Makes sense to set a book where you're presently living; where you could generate sales in the community.

Thanks for hosting Jennifer, Carol. As I read this post, I was reminded that I have her book that was published in 2008, The Role of a Lifetime, on my Nook. I have yet to finish most of the books on my Nook, including this one, as I've been so bogged down with book promotion and blogging as well as caregiving duties; but Jennifer Shirk is an EXCELLENT writer. I say this because I just re-read the first pages of The Role of a Lifetime, and I'm hooked. The writing flows, and suspense and intrigue are immediately introduced. I want to keep turning pages. And so I know I am also going to want to read Georgie on His Mind. Good job, Jennifer, as my own daughter Jennifer (she prefers Jen) would say!
Ann Best, Memoir Author
Silke said…
You know, it's kind of funny.
I always make my settings up, because I can go anywhere then.
But I mix in real things as well.
When my fellow critters and I created Five Oaks, it was one heck of a collaboration -- and it worked. People fell in love with our town, and I've had more than one reviewer comment that Five Oaks is as much a character as the people populating the place.
I take that as a compliment. :)
Carol Kilgore said…
I've set stories in real places and in fictional ones. In the manuscript I just finished, the setting started out as a real town on the Texas coast. By the time I finished, I'd changed so much about the town, I had to change the name.

I also want to thank Jennifer Shirk for being this week's guest blogger at Under the Tiki Hut. I know we've all enjoyed having her.
Jennifer Shirk said…
Oh, Ann, your comments brought tears to my eyes. You are SO sweet!!!

And once again, thank you to everyone for all the wonderful comments and discussion!

And thank you to Carol for hosting me!!