When I first started writing, I sought out advice from successful authors... thriller writers, fantasy, middle grade, romance, and even non-fiction. One nugget kept coming up over and over again... Write what you know.
Now I don't know about you, but at the time I'd been laid off so I was a stay-at-home mom of three whose greatest daily goal was to fit in a shower. If I tried to "write what you know" I probably would have started a blog about how to clean kid poop off mini blinds (yes, that happened) and what to do when your three-year-old yells the f-word while you're wheeling your shopping cart through Target (he learned it from another kid at pre-school, I promise!)
I was up to my eyeballs in what I knew, and was ready for an escape from the day-to-day. So I set out to write what I didn't know which meant I got to do research. In the first manuscript I wrote (which still hasn't seen the light of day) my main character had an affinity for whiskey. Oh, I enjoyed researching that. Turns out I like my whiskey as a single malt, served neat, just like the star of my novel. She also spent time on the road in a giant RV. I can't tell you how much fun I had looking up recreational vehicle layouts online. Some of those are bigger than my first house! And there's also a very moving scene that takes place at a male strip club. Ahem, I cannot say how I came upon that knowledge...hubby may be reading this. But he's definitely been warned to not pay attention to my Google history.
My point is, I understand what the experts mean when they say to write what you know. In order to create genuine characters I have to be able to put myself in their shoes (or cowboy boots if they're in Holiday, Texas.) But I also love learning about new locations, different careers and experiences that are totally foreign to me. Having the opportunity to chat with someone whose life choices and life lessons are much different from my own is one of the most exciting parts of being a writer.
If I didn't venture out from what I know I never would have come up with Jinx, the blue-haired biker who rolls into Holiday, Texas and steals Cash's heart. And poor Baby Back never would have found her way onto the page as The Rambling Rose's mascot. As much as I begged hubby to let us bring a pet pig into our home so I could get the full experience of pig ownership, he did put his foot down about that (the poor man is allergic to anything with fur, so he does have a valid reason.)
So my advice to aspiring writers is yes, write what you know. But also don't be afraid to venture outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes that's where you'll find your best inspiration, your most memorable characters, and the biggest emotional payoffs. As for me, I plan on racking up as many interesting experiences as I can so I have a huge well to draw from when I sit down to write my next book. And I've learned how to go incognito on the internet...browsers everywhere beware!
They call him Casanova. But can this charming devil of a cowboy teach a good girl how to change her ways?
Small-town preacher's daughter Dixie King is used to having a lot on her plate. Keep tabs on her flighty grandmother? No problem. Handle the honky tonk's first ever Chili Cook-Off? In the bag. Vamp it up to charm a would-be developer into leaving Holiday, Texas for good?
...now there she might need a helping hand.
Enter Presley Walker: Holiday's own Cowboy Casanova and the perfect tutor for a good girl looking to go bad. He's got charm in spades, and he's always seemed like a terrible idea waiting to happen. But as Presley and Dixie work together to save their beloved hometown, these polar opposites might finally see the good in each other...if they can only learn to trust their hearts enough to fall.
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