I have attended the Pioneer City Rodeo in rural Palestine, Illinois, over Labor Day weekend for many years. For almost as long, I’ve wanted to set a story in this town five hours south of my home in Chicagoland. But how to get all the details right?
About two years ago, I drafted the story and incorporated a lot of what I already knew about the event and town into the storyline. Last year, when I was there over Labor Day weekend, I paid very close attention the sights, sounds, and smells and brought them into the story as I polished up the manuscript.
The rodeos occur at night, giving my characters freedom during the day to do other things, even traveling to Indiana for a picnic on one of those days. To be sure I didn’t have them making a wrong turn, I traveled many of the same routes described in the story, noting specific details. We also went to the same restaurants and I made note of the menu items, having my characters order the same food. It was fun to sit at a corner table in one of the restaurants and say, “That’s Jace and Sydney’s table.”
One place I didn’t feel comfortable going inside was the local hospital to ask to see the ER department, etc. In that case, I used my imagination and past experiences to describe the setting. I do mention in the author notes that some locations are fictional. Even with that, I was concerned that the locals would find something off with my descriptions.
Then I serendipitously met a couple at a bull-riding event near my home who were from Palestine, Illinois. They were a five-hour drive from home, and it was no coincidence we were sitting near each other. It was what I prefer to call a divine appointment.
Of course, I told them about Second Chance Love, and the woman offered to promote it for me. Recently, the manager of the Palestine Chamber of Commerce emailed me, saying she received a copy of my book from the woman I met and that every location, including the arena, were described so well she felt like she was right there. Tears filled my eyes. There is nothing worse than having a local tell you that you got the description all wrong.
I’m very excited that the Chamber of Commerce wants to promote the book during this year’s rodeo. It is a dream come true and I am so grateful to God for this amazing blessing on my writing.
A native of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, author Pamela S. Meyers lives in suburban Chicago with her two rescue cats. Her novels include Thyme for Love and her historical romance, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Her novella, What Lies Ahead, is part of a novella collection, The Bucket List Dare, which is now available at Amazon in both print and Kindle formats.
Second Chance Love from Bling!, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, released in January 2017. When she isn’t at her laptop writing her latest novel, she can often be found nosing around Wisconsin and other Midwestern spots for new story ideas. Here’s the link to her Amazon author page where you can purchase Second Chance Love and any other of her books: http://amzn.to/2kqP5CC
You can also find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/PamelaSMeyersAuthor/