California Settings in Books …

Do you like the bougainvillea I chose for my header?

It’s a picture I took, andΒ it’s so very “California.”

When I first started writing fiction I decided that, if I can, I’d like to set all of my romances in California, since there are so many nooks and crannies to explore. Most people only think of the beach, or of L.A., or of San Francisco when they think of California, but there are so many other areas to this enormous state. I thought it would be fun to have books set in wine country, balloon-riding country, along old Highway 49 (“Gold Rush” country), some of the islands off the coast, at a national park or two, and maybe even on a houseboat in one of the harbors. The Golden Heart-finalling book was set in a California mountain resort, because that was a place I always wanted to write about. (I’m not sure people think of “mountaintops” when they think of California, but we have a lot of them. And I wanted to write about how it feels to be “stuck” in a resort on a hilltop.) My next two books were set in fictional “Sandy Cove,” which is based on the real-life San Clemente and Dana Point. I chose those places because they’re beautiful seaside towns that still have a bit of an “old-school” California vibe that we don’t always see here anymore.

But California also has lots of dairy farms, ranches and agriculture. The state is so rich with land and stories — I feel I could write about it for at least 70 books. : )

Let me know if you like my new masthead, and if you have other favorite California settings you’d love to read about. … If you’ve lived here or visited here (or live here now), what area left an impression on you and why? Was any place completely different than you expected?


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11 thoughts on “California Settings in Books …

  1. I like it, it’s beautiful! I had to peek at all your new pages too. πŸ™‚ You have such a background in writing, I’m jealous! I just have a background in READING! ha!

    I just finished the new Dan Brown (pretty good), and starting a new author that is getting good reviews, I’m blanking on the name right now it’s in the kitchen. Can’t Stand the Heat – I googled the character names, ha! Pretty cute so far.

    I need to figure out how to read the last of your chapters on my iPhone because I’m not at my computer often with KIDS! Ugh!

    As for your earlier question about NaNoWriMo on Twitter, I have a contemporary paranormal brewing in my brain. I have not been very dedicated in writing every day though so it is not getting far. Maybe I can hunker down and do something about it in Nov.

  2. Mizwrite, it is beautiful and that is how I think of the bougainvillea…as being a symbol of California and especially close to the shore. I wake up almost every Saturday and Sunday, look out my bedroom slider, and see hot air balloons taking off from wine country. Can you imagine a story where one setting is Harmony, that itty bitty little town? Or Ojai? or even Death Valley? You are so right…you could write at least 70 books!

  3. Hi, KristiBug! Yes, please — stay awhile! πŸ™‚ (Wish I could offer you a beverage and we could just stand around and chat.) Wow, you read fast, too. Was just talking to @CrystalPosey about that. She’s a fast reader also. You guys are lucky because you can get a LOT of books in that way. As for NaNo — I encourage you to try it! It’s only a month, and you’ll have so much fun writing fast. You’ll love “meeting” your characters every day for a month. Go for it!

    Happy Hour — Hi! Oh wow, you can see the hot-air balloons from your window? Yes, I think that would be a wonderful setting there in wine country. So relaxing and pretty. Now where is Harmony? I’ll have to look that up in my Atlas when I get home. And Ojai — yes, might have to spend some time at a gorgeous spa out there for “research”! πŸ™‚ And yes, Death Valley (or Joshua Tree?) would be a really cool setting, too — desert is very symbolic. Send more ideas as you think of them!

  4. I forgot to change my name when I posted before…I posted as Happy Hour. Sheesh. You could be the romance writer for California with a whole series of books. I am sitting here giggling thinking of titles but none of them are romantic. Amore in Anaheim does not quite cut it.

    We had a dairy farm where we used to buy milk as a kid in the San Fernando Valley. It is such a concrete jungle now. But California is so beautiful, you would never run out of material.

    Hope the agent hunt is going well.

  5. You know what I really love about California? Its ability to continually reinvent itself. I love that for decades California has been a beacon of hope for the country and even more recently, for the world. During the Dust Bowl and Depression, countless Americans made their way west to California in search of a better life. After WWII, California was the symbol of the new America. The Jet Age and the Space Age came about in California. America’s car culture (good or bad) was born in California. Mid-Century Modern was born and raised in California. The list goes on and on. And yet, for every step California takes forward she never forgets her past. California is still the bread basket of America. California still sets trends in design and culture hence the expression: as California goes so goes the nation.

    So, with that in mind I love “old California”. I especially love the new development in California that honors its agricultural past with the old Spanish ranch names and Victorian farmhouse architecture. I think of old California as first generation. That said, I love post-War California too. This is mid-Century California. I think of this as second generation. Now, California has gone digital (think Getty Center and the Disney concert Hall). I think of it as CA-3G. So, specific locations can vary, but they all pretty much fall into these categories.

  6. Oh, I forgot to mention that I love the new picture. It’s funny because when I first saw it as I sat melting in the Texas heat, that picture took me right back to California in my mind. I didn’t know exactly where it was taken, but I intuitively knew it was in California.

  7. I think that bouganvillia says California. Vibrant and alive and needing sunshine to thrive. I like this picture a lot! Very good choice!

  8. Kat — ha, ha! Superman and I cracked up over “Amore in Anaheim”!!! That’s too funny. How about “Romance in Rancho Santa Margarita” … ugh! (Once you hit that seventh syllable, all is lost!!!) Anyway, I might come back to you for info on hot-air balloons (or may visit!). …

    Dave — Yes, good point. California is as much about eras as it is locales. One place where the two cross is Palm Springs. Nothing says midcentury modern like PS! And as for autos — yes! I did an interview with a guy who wrote a book on the history of auto racing here in So. Cal, which was great and rich with stories. Always thought those would be some fun stories to tell. Plus, yes — Victorian homes, old adobes, lots of good stuff …

    Thanks, all, for the compliments on the masthead! I think I’ll keep it. πŸ™‚

  9. Sorry to be so late. Love your new header and the idea of setting your books around California. It sounds great. It’s best to write what you know and love.

  10. Let me know what you think of Edgar Sawtelle — I loved it, but of course it has a lot about dogs in it. I thought it was a very different story! Just finished “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and enjoyed that, too.
    I think you would like “Little Bee” by Chris Cleave, too.

  11. Kwana — Ah, you’re never late! I’m always here, hanging around, so come over whenever you can. : ) Thanks for the encouragement about California. Now YOU’VE got a setting to write about — NYC! That has a million stories. …

    Dixie — Hello!!! Okay, I’ll let you know how Edgar Sawtelle goes. It looks like a classic “storyteller’s” tale, so I’m excited to try it. Thanks for the tips on the other books, too. You always have good books going. Are you in a book club?

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