How real is your fiction?

I’ve now published two novels in my Mountain Mystery Series. Book One is “The Road to Lavender” and Book Two is “A Lavender Wedding.” Both novels take place in the mythical town of Lavender, Colorado, on the wild Western Slope of Colorado. And both works chronicle the adventures of my handsome detective/lavender farmer, Trinidad Sands, and his spunky partner, Anne Scriptor.

Book Three is in manuscript right now.

My third novel takes place in a picturesque mountain region known as Grand Lake, Colorado. It will be a “prequel” which describes past events which inspired Trinidad Sands to become a detective.

I initially considered continuing my theme by naming Book Three “Lavender Grand.” But, since I want new readers to recognize my genre as well as connecting with a new locale, I’ve decided to change the title.

The new working title is “Spirits of Grand Lake,” a nod to multiple layers of phantoms which haunt the deep mountain lake, including Ute ancestors; victims of a 1883 wild-west shoot-out; and a quirky villain bent on revenge over an incident from the 1970s.

My new bride and I just returned from a road-trip to Grand Lake. We explored the rambling Grand Lake Lodge–built in the 1920s–as well as the vintage lodge’s scenic setting. My story takes place in the lodge and surrounding wilderness. I left with a renewed sense of purpose and a mental image of a dynamite book cover.

I returned to my studio and mocked up a cover only to discover, much to my chagrin, that I had taken a photograph–not Grand Lake–but a neighboring body of water known as Lake Granby.

Ugh.

I’ve envisioned a great cover. But it’s the wrong lake.

Having authored two mildly successful novels, I’ve found that my fiction works best when it’s grounded in reality. My first two mysteries rely on vivid descriptions of my beloved Colorado–descriptions which ground my fictional characters firmly in real settings.

After some agonizing reappraisal, I’ve decided to scrap my draft cover. Time to pack up the car and head back to Grand Lake to capture a more authentic image. Correcting my mistake will mean a 300- mile roundtrip. But it will be worth it to make my fiction real.

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