Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Please welcome guest author Sherrie Hansen

My first published book – Night and Day, by Second Wind Publishing – is set in Blooming Prairie, Minnesota and Copenhagen, Denmark with a brief interlude on Prince Edward Island, Canada. My tagline, “It’s midnight in Minnesota and Daybreak in Denmark”, speaks to the fact that Jensen and Anders connect via the internet, each from their own corner of the world.

My work-in-progress, Wild Rose of Scotland, is set at St. Conan’s Kirk on Loch Awe. The first book in the series, Blue Belle of Scotland, takes place in Tobermory, a picturesque old village whose rainbow-colored storefronts are reflected in the waters off the Isle of Mull. 

For a writer / innkeeper / restaurateur / pastor’s wife whose life is too busy and complicated to plan a vacation anytime in the foreseeable future, “traveling” to these exotic locales in my mind is like taking a mini-vacation. Hopefully, my readers will also enjoy visiting the quaint spots that provide a backdrop to the adventures of Jensen and Anders and any other of my characters who are lucky enough to find their homes in such beautiful places. 

But we all can’t live in Colorado. Nor can we go on vacation all the time. The trilogy of books I’m currently getting ready for publication – Stormy Weather, Waterlily, and Merry-Go-Round – are all set in Osage, Iowa, just 11 miles from where I live. The stage for these books is set with cornfields, cabbage patches, and contented cows grazing in pastures. The secondary characters are small town… well… characters. And it’s not one bit boring. To the contrary, writing about my hometown has been very enlightening. 

Looking at my very ordinary world through the eyes of my characters has shed a whole new light on what was once deemed plain. These people see things in my world that I never would have noticed. With their help, I’ve discovered a whole new meaning to the phrase, Beauty in Your Own Backyard. It’s amazing, the things I see when looking through the rose-colored glasses of the three Jones sisters.

So, wherever it is you find yourself, take a look around. Whether you’re reading – or writing – a book set in Windermere, England, Apple Valley, Minnesota, Moonstone Beach, or Weedpatch, California, there are beautiful sights to behold no matter where you go in the world – a simple wildflower, a spectacular sunset, the moon glinting off a lake (or maybe even a mud puddle). 

And next time you’re lucky enough to be able to take a vacation to some lovely new location, by all means, take your camera, your moleskin journal, your steno pad, or your Alphasmart. Take photos, record each memory, soak in every ounce of scenic beauty that you can. 

All I’m suggesting is that when you come home, keep your camera out. Try looking at your own, everyday world through the eyes of someone who’s seeing those same, familiar haunts for the very first time. Take notice of the extraordinary, and you’ll discover all kinds of unique beauty – right in your own backyard. Learning to see the Cinderella side of your soot and ashes world, to appreciate the sights you take for granted, will make you a better writer, a better mother, a better lover, a better everything under the sun. 

Sherrie Hansen
Night and Day


Tierney O'Malley said...

I enjoyed reading your post Sherrie. Yup, wherever we go, I always carry my camera with me. I'm the one who would take lots and lots of pictures. When I received my first digital camera, I was so excited. I can take pictures and see the results right away. No more developing. But, digital maybe the state of the art technology, pictured developed in the dark room is still better. I think. *shug* I could be wrong.

Congratulations on your books. Reading your post, you made me think that you are a romantic at heart. :- )

Margay said...

That is good advice and I do that, though not always intentionally. Let me explain. My apartment building is set back enough from the street that I hardly ever hear traffic go buy and it is surrounded on three sides by trees. On one side, it is like a mini-forest with an old stone wall that zigzags along the base of a hill. Every time I go to take out the trash (which is housed on that side), I hear all kinds of birds chirping away and we have seen other wildlife - like deer and fox - weaving in and out of the trees, sometimes boldly coming out into the yard. Anyway, every time I hear those birds, their chirps echoing between the trees (I am even hearing them now as I type because I have my slider open), I can imagine myself walking through the forest in the current book that I am working on and it really helps with the visualization of those scenes.

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