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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sweet Home Alabama

By Heather Blake


Have you heard that “write what you know” is one of the unofficial rules of fiction writing? It makes sense, I suppose. How does one effectively write about something they’ve never experienced?

Personally, I think that rule stifles creativity.

If I’d stuck to that rule, I’d never have the familiars in my Wishcraft books (some of my favorite characters) because if I ever came across a talking mouse in real life, I’d have to commit myself. And if I had magical dewdrops that cured ailments, as in my Potion Shop mysteries, I would finally be rid of my migraines once and for all (hurrah!).

And, I’d never have set my Potion books in Alabama. I’ve never lived there. Pretty much knew nothing about it. However, I’m only half-kidding when I joke that I must have been a Southern belle in a former life. I’ve always been curious about the South, which I think began in grade school history class and took root with To Kill a Mockingbird and blossomed with books by Anne George and Fannie Flagg.

So, why did I choose Alabama in particular?

Easy. I was lucky enough to attend a conference there in 2008 and as I drove along its back roads, soaking up the scenery, I felt its history (it’s kind of indescribable, really). I knew someday I’d write a book set there.

Since then, I’ve been back several times, taking notes, immersing myself in the everyday trivialities that make a place and its residents stand out. I’ve read books. Cookbooks. Followed Alabama bloggers. Talked to friends who’ve lived there. Studied Southern vernacular. Tried to capture the ambiance without being clichéd.

I do all that because I think the writing rule should be “write like you know what you’re talking about.”

No, I’ve never used magical dewdrops. Or solved a crime. Or lived on the same street as my three eccentric aunts. Or lived in a quaint town known as the wedding capital of the South. But I make sure my writing feels like I have—and that my readers feel like they have, too.

Do you have a favorite Southern book?

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The publisher has generously offered a copy of One Potion in the Grave to one of my readers. Please comment below before midnight on October 22, 2014. Entries from the US only, please.  Please don't forget to include an email address so I can contact you if you win!

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Heather also has a giveaway on her website!

Heather is running a month-long One Potion in the Grave Witchtastic giveaway via Rafflecopter (9/23 – 10/23). Win a set of “Cast a Spell” measuring spoons, a set of three Yankee Candle potion bottle tealight holders, a Lego minifigure witch, and a $20.00 gift card to Barnes & Noble or  Amazon (winner’s choice). 


To enter: http://www.heatherblakebooks.com/p/giveaway.html or http://tinyurl.com/k9rzmby


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Heather Blake (aka Heather Webber) is the author of more than twenty novels and has been twice nominated for an Agatha Award. She's a total homebody who loves to be
close to her family, read, watch reality TV (especially cooking competition shows), drink too much coffee, crochet, and bake cookies. Heather grew up in a suburb of Boston, but currently she lives in the Cincinnati area with her family and is hard at work on her next book.
You can find Heather at www.heatherblakebooks.com, on facebook at facebook.com/heatherblakebooks, and on Twitter @booksbyheather.


48 comments:

  1. I enjoy reading the series from Terri DuLong "Postcards from Cedar Key". I guess because I live down the road from Cedar Key, Fl.

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    1. Patty, I'll have to look that one up. Thanks for sharing it.

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    2. Thanks for reading my blog, Patty. Please respond with a valid email address if you'd like to be entered in the drawing.

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    3. b5sycop@nefcom.net

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  2. Thanks so much for inviting me, Marlyn. This was a fun post to write. And THANK YOU for the wonderful review.

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    1. You're so welcome. I type only the truth. Thanks for dropping by, Heather!

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  3. I've enjoyed your Wishcraft series very much ( and I realize they're not set in the south - but just saying ) Just finished reading "Garden Spells" and enjoyed that book Also enjoy the Bailey Cates series the Magical Bakery Series that started with "Brownies and Broomsticks" And looking forward to starting this new magical potion series
    Bonnie Schoening
    windsongbreeze2001@yahoo.com

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    1. Thanks for reading Stuff and Nonsense, Bonnie! I love all of Heather's series too.

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    2. Thank you, Bonnie! I tried to make the two series as different as possible but hallmarks of my writing always come through. Like flawed characters, humor, and fun secondary characters. :)

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  4. Love your books! I actually live in northern Alabama. I wish these people existed so I could visit them!

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    1. I feel the same way, Teresa. Thanks for reading my blog!

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    2. Thank you, Teresa! I wish they did, too.

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  5. I like when "the southern" just creeps up on me in a book. I have never lived in the South but it seems so familiar. I think my favorite Southern books are those by Dorothea Benton Frank. By the end of the book I always want to live on that island.

    Love the Wishcraft series. Thanks for the opportunity to win.
    sallycootie@gmail.com

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    1. Thanks for reading Stuff and Nonsense!

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    2. Thank you Grandma Cootie! The Wish books are close to my heart. I haven't read a Dorothea book--will look them up.

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  6. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my all time favorite books! I think that the setting in the Wishcraft series feels just right. Well done!
    mary-fairchild@sbcglobal.net

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    1. Thanks, Mare! Happy to see you here. TKAM is just...everything. :)

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    2. I love TKAM, too. Thanks for reading Stuff and Nonsense, Mary!

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  7. I don't have a favorite. sclickner@juno.com

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    1. That's okay! Maybe after reading the Potion books, you will. :) Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. Thanks for reading my blog!

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  8. I have lots of southern books, I like; but, To Kill a Mockingbird is still my favorite.



    patucker54 at aol dot com

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  9. I love the Magic Potion Mystery series. I'm looking forward to seeing what Carly's mother has in store for us in this book. :D

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    1. Carol, I love Rona! So glad you enjoy the books. Thank you!

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    2. Thanks for stopping by, Carol!

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  10. A fun series I look forward to reading the latest
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

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  11. Gone with the Wind is the penultimate old South book. But I love the Magic Potion series and the Alabama flair. Kuzlin at aol.com

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    1. I've actually never read the book--I've only seen the movie. I think I need to fix that. And so glad you enjoy the Potion books. :)

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    2. I've never seen the movie, but I HAVE read the book. Thanks for reading my blog!

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  12. Anne George never fails to make me laugh.

    gibsonbk@hiwaay dot net

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    1. An absolute hoot. What a loss when she passed away. :(

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    2. I must admit to never having read any Anne George. I'll have to rectify that. Thanks for stopping by!

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  13. I love To Kill a Mockingbird, but there are several cozy series with Southern settings that I enjoy....

    dmskrug3 at hotmail dot com

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    1. There are lots of good series set in the South, aren't there? Thanks for reading my blog, Daniele!

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  14. I love both of your series! I don't know if I have a favorite southern book.

    Dtk070305@gmail.com

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    1. Heather is a fantastic writer, isn't she? Thanks for reading my blog, Tracy!

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  15. Oh, oh, oh! Hi Heather, I didn't realize you were also Heather Blake with a Witchcraft series out. I met you at Murder in the Magic City in Birmingham, AL when you were promoting your Nina Quinn Series. You are such a sweet person and a terrific writer. I wish you the best success with all your series! I hope I win the drawing for One Potion in the Grave!
    Coco Ihle at CocoIhleatgmail.com

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  16. One Southern Mystery that comes to mind is A Farmers Market Mystery Series by Paige Shelton.

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  17. Oops. My email is rjprazak6@gmail.com

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    1. Thanks for reading Stuff and Nonsense, Rebecca!

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  18. i was just thinking of Leann Sweeney's books where they are frequently swigging sweet tea, so i guess they are Southern? i'd love to meet a talking mouse or have magical dewdrops!

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  19. I have so many favorite Southern books, it hard to pick. Laura Childs, Paige Shelton, the Lavenes,.....
    And I love this series.

    kaye.killgore.comcast.net

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  20. Can I actually pick a favorite book (or series) of the books I've read set in the South? Hm. Nope, I think it just may be impossible. Most of those mentioned by others are on my I-love-them-list, plus a few other cozy mysteries.

    robbfan141729@yahoo.com

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