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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Setting as framing

I'm so fortunate that my husband and I have so many great pieces of artwork (mostly science fiction and fantasy) and needlework to adorn our walls.  I used to take everything to our local Ben Franklin's store, because my "Framing Goddesses" were there.  These two ladies understood my tastes, could pull the mat that would match perfectly and knew exactly which frame was in stock that would pull the piece together.  They've gone on to other occupations, but I think of them every once in a while, when I look at one of my pieces.  I've been going to our local Michael's recently and they've done a terrific job, but it hasn't been as much fun.

The right frame really makes the piece, doesn't it?  So, when I was writing my novel Seven Days, I knew it would have to be set in places familiar to me.  I wanted to drop in little details that would make the reader go, "She's been there" or "I know that place" or "That tells me what I need to know."  My heroine and her sisters are from Indianapolis, a place where I spent about a third of my life for work over six years.  My hero, however, lives in Las Vegas and we were fortunate enough to spend two vacations out there in 2008 and 2009. 

There were many incidents that sent shivers down my back from synchronicity, but two stand out that may make you laugh.  The first was when I first started writing the book in the last half of 2006.  I checked into one of the hotels we usually stayed at while in Indy, the Residence Inn at the Airport.  I was so excited about the story, I mentioned it to the desk clerk, asking if she knew who I could talk to in order to find out about the fanciest suite at the Marriott Downtown.  She got a funny look on her face, then said she used to work down there and got me a faxed floor plan for their two Presidential Suites.  Either can host a reception for up to 35 people, perfect for the wedding reception in the second book in my series, Seven Months.  Ask and ye shall receive. 

The other took place on our second trip to Vegas.  Chris was off playing poker and I started exploring.  My main characters in Seven Days decide to get married on a Wednesday morning.  My hero gets the heroine to pick out an engagement ring on the way to the chapel, so I went in search of the high-end jewelry stores on The Strip.  I found the Tiffany store in The Forum Shoppes, associated with Caesar's and boldly went in.  I mentioned I was researching for my novel and they couldn't have been more helpful.  The salesman showed me several rings that would be appropriate, but here's the kicker.  I asked the security guard the best way my characters would get in to the store, since it's a long walk from the main entrance.  He got a funny look on his face and told me the VIP Entrance was just out the door, complete with valet parking. 

Now, how cool is that?  I got to see exactly what my characters would see, walk exactly where they walked, feel what they were feeling.  It gave me a frame for that particular scene, to enhance it.  Fate and faith puts you where you need to be, doesn't it? 


  1. Great stories, Julee! "Ask and ye shall receive" - that's my motto! I'm thinking it's time for me to take a road trip and do some research myself!

  2. That is so cool. I have yet to be brave enough to go into a store of a business and really question them like that. Well done!

  3. Thanks, Pam and Lizzy. I guess it's all those years I served in retail, that I know those clerks are just begging for someone to come in to say something interesting! Maybe, they'll think of me as "that weird lady," but I don't care--I was so excited to find what I needed. Appreciate you stopping by and commenting!