The Next Best Thing to Being There

Moonday Mania

a blog about the craft of writing

Introducing Alana Lorens! I’m happy to be introducing my friend, Alana Lorens. Alana is one of the marvelous ladies I met at Margie Lawson’s Deep Immersion class. Not only is she an amazing writer, but she is wonderful to work with and fun to get to know. Alana also writes the Clan Elves of the Bitterroot series as Lyndi Alexander, and is a frequent guest on Paranormal Freebies. Today she has been kind enough to write a craft post for Moonday Mania. Take it away, Alana!

The Next Best Thing to Being There

winding road For me, a good setting is one of the most important facts of a story.  As writers, we have the ability to write about a tale that unfolds in any place in this world – and for some writers, even beyond the bonds of the earth itself.  Along with that, writers are often told: write what you know.

            Does that mean that we should only write stories about Main Street, Our Town, USA? Of course not. While Main Street, Your Town, may be a perfectly good home for a tale to develop, but other stories long for a more exotic home.  Some love stories can only take place in Paris.  Action stories take place on the international thriller stage. Fantasies can take place in the forest, in caverns, in lavish underwater settings.  Do you have to be familiar with the setting to write about it?

            Not necessarily.

            I’m fortunate that the two books I have coming out this summer are Lady Lawyer novels  set in Pittsburgh: I live a couple of hours from there, so I can go there to soak up a little atmosphere to share with readers.  I can take photographs. I can listen to people talk over sandwiches at Primanti Brothers, til I’m thinking “yinz” in my head

            But, you can set a story in Pittsburgh even if you’ve never been there.  Many tools and tricks available to help set atmosphere and location in your story, even if you can’t set your own feet in a place.

            Reference volumes such as Writer’s Guide to Places ( give you details information, pictures and more to help you create your setting.

            Do you want to know what a place looks like? How about Netflix/On Demand or movies.  How about Flickr?  People all around this globe post pictures of a place or landmark, from myriad viewpoints and perspectives: use them for inspiration.  The internet has Google images – and millions of travel pieces written on topics from parade Krewes and best crawdads at Mardi Gras to the daily life of villages in Nepal. Read them – not as gospel, but as an ever-evolving sense of place.  You may have an encyclopedia from 2000, but by now it is really outdated with the changing nature of the political world.reno

            One of my series is set in a post-apocalyptic world, and focuses on people crossing the United States after a terrorist attack. I wanted to know what Interstate 80 might look like at a given pass, and found Don Bain’s Virtual Guidebooks, with real time pictures. ( Or perhaps there are government traffic/security cameras posted in a place you want to see.  Government spy-eyes are good enough for cops, and good enough for you, too.

devils tower

Online research may not give you everything, but you can pick up the land of detail that made the reader believe that he or she is there.  Like in the old days of Miami Vice, when my then-husband used to claw the arms of his Lazy-Boy every time the police radio said “I’m heading north on the Rickenbacker Causeway.” When we know it runs east and west.

            It’s all in the details – make sure you research well enough that you can bring your setting to life without yanking your reader out of context.


CONVICTION OF THE HEART (release date June 8, 2012) 

conviction of the heart by alana lorensFamily law attorney Suzanne Taylor understands her clients’ problems—her own husband left her with two babies to raise alone. Now that they’re teenagers, her life is full. The last thing she wants is the romantic attentions of a police lieutenant, no matter how good-looking.

Lt. Nick Sansone is juggling the demands of a new promotion, and doesn’t need complications either. But when he sends a councilman’s battered wife to Suzanne for help, he realizes he wants to connect with the lovely, prickly lawyer on more than a professional level.

They are soon confronted with a different battle, when the abused woman’s husband threatens retribution. The powerful, well-connected councilman can damage both their careers—not to mention hurt those they love. Can they bend enough to admit they need each other in a time of crisis? Or will a husband’s revenge take them down before they ever get a chance?

And SECOND CHANCES (release date July 2012)

Inessa Regan, a 10-year associate at a Pittsburgh law firm, gets a pink slip when the economy tanks. Insecure, her pride wounded, she flounders helplessly until she meets Kurtis Lowdon, a man 15 years younger than she, an Iraq War veteran with cancer.  He helps her take the first steps back from the pit of despair after she loses everything that defines her.

  First as her client, then as her landlord, then as her partner, Kurt shows her the power of  believing in oneself. Their journey is tainted with secrets from Kurt’s own past, as well as some of the horrors of war that have followed Kurt and his friends home from overseas. When his cancer returns, she must take control of her own life and fight to survive.   His battle teaches her how to live; and she risks everything she holds dear to save him.

The first and Second books of the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyer Series!

Come by the following blogs or live booksignings (see more at and leave a comment to be entered in a drawing—at the end of the tour, Alana will give away one ebook copy of each book and one paperback copy of each book—Four lucky winners!


Alana Lorens (aka Barbara Mountjoy) has been a published writer for over 35 years, including seven years as a reporter and editor at the South Dade News Leader in Homestead, Florida. Her list of publications includes the non-fiction book 101 Little Instructions for Surviving Your Divorce, published by Impact Publishers in 1999, stories in A Cup of Comfort for Divorced Women, in December 2008, and A Cup of Comfort for Adoptive Parents, in June 2009. Her Clan Elves of the Bitterroot series (as Lyndi Alexander) is available from Dragonfly Publishing; THE ELF QUEEN in 2010, THE ELF CHILD in 2011, and THE ELF MAGE in 2012.

alana lorensHer newest release (as Alana Lorens) is SECRETS IN THE SAND, in the Crimson Rose line from The Wild Rose Press. CONVICTION OF THE HEART is her sixth published novel, which will be followed in July 2012 with SECOND CHANCES, a women’s fiction with romantic elements story. The Wild Rose Press is also publishing her contemporary romance novella THAT GIRL’S THE ONE I LOVE later this summer.

When she’s not busy writing, practicing law or teaching, she takes care of a husband and a bunch of kids and blogs on a variety of subjects, including autism, science fiction and life at Awalkabout.


Filed under guest post, Moonday mania

6 responses to “The Next Best Thing to Being There

  1. Research is so easy with technology, far away places accessible, history at our fingertips. So far I’ve set books in places I’ve lived in or have been to, but some have taken place in the past. 1920s, 1960, and soon, the late 1500s.

    Congrats on the new series, Alana.

  2. The lady lawyer series looks wonderful. Can’t wait to read it.


  3. Pingback: Last week of the blog tour! Don’t miss your chance to win! - Alana Lorens

  4. Pingback: A Voodoo Dream—Is It a Nightmare? | JessicaAspenWrites

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