Treasure Trail: Figuring Out a Story with Nicole Dennis – Post + Giveaway

August 30, 2016

Figuring Out a Story

Hello to everyone!

My name is Nicole Dennis. I get the lucky spot to be the first to introduce my book – Treasure Trail – to kick off Dreamspinner’s new series – States of Love. The series comprises of fifty different authors of contemporary novellas with each one representing and highlighting a specific state.

Almost as soon as I read the submission call, I knew I wanted Florida. I live here and know there is far more to Florida than the theme parks and beaches. Everyone knows about the beaches, the Everglades, the Keys and even the sun-drenched decadence of Miami. Nope. None of that even came to my mind. I focused on another city I wanted to incorporate into the store.

What about the oldest city in the United States?

It’s right here in Florida. St. Augustine.

Once I read a submission call, this is a little insight ‘behind the scenes’ of how I built Treasure Trail from the idea of just St. Augustine into a complete story. Before I could add characters and plot, I needed to learn as much as possible about St. Augustine to figure out what exactly I wanted to focus on.

Research! Yay. Honest. I love research and gathering all kinds of bits of information.

Here’s a bit of a history lesson and some of what I found during the research. I know. This isn’t History class and I promise this isn’t on the test.

First founded by the Spanish, St. Augustine is located on the northern end of the state on the Atlantic coast. It’s this almost historical, but magical city with a magnificent Spanish fort, Castillo de San Marcos, standing guard. The Castillo is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. It’s located on the western shore of the Matanzas Bay and designed by a Spanish engineer. The Spanish used the fort and growing town to hold their control over Florida from the English, the French, and pirates. Over the earlier years, it changed hands multiple times, been attacked and burnt, but the Castillo continued to stand strong, providing a perch to observe enemy vessels and protect St. Augustine, what is now known as the ‘Old City’.

When you visit St. Augustine, the historic feel from the cobblestone and brick paths throughout the oldest part draws you in almost immediately. The paths are thin and narrow. The buildings with all the little shops, restaurants and taverns reflect the Spanish feel. You want to visit this place and spend as much time as possible to see all the nooks, crannies and hidden places. I’ve been to St. Augustine many times and still haven’t seen anything.

Another huge tidbit, St. Augustine is very LGBT friendly. So, extra yay!

So… Back to configuring the story with all of this research. At least it’s the bare beginnings of the story. Again, I needed to figure out certain pieces that could give me what I need. Yup, more research.

I wanted to showcase the historic downtown and the Castillo. I remember reading and seeing something about ‘St. Augustine Historic Walking Tours’. I know. Sounds all big, boring and a crap load of walking, but then I focused in on the ‘Pirate Pub Crawl’. For this one, a tour guide (dressed as a pirate – how can it get any better than this?) leads their merry crew on a walking tour of the historic downtown and visit multiple pubs for a pint of brew and tales of the golden age of piracy and Pirates. Pubs. Beer…er, grog in this case.

Hey, it was either Pirates or Ghosts. I went with pirates.

Now the ideas continued to build and grow. This was what I needed. This Pub Crawl could be the way for my characters to see each other all the time. How to make that happen? This is where I start generating and growing my main characters, Derick and Chris.

Derick became the owner of a brewpub-tavern with a pirate theme and brews craft beers to go with the rest of the menu. His brewpub is on the list of the Pirate Pub Crawl where he offers one of the specialized craft brews to the guests. He also turned into a steady, quiet type of man, with some social anxiety that crops up now and then but he manages it. After leaving home, he created several goals for himself – get a good job, own a home, and fall in love. Simple goals. He started working at the brewpub when he arrived in St. Augustine and never left. Before purchasing the brewpub from the previous owner, he signed papers for his new home. He tried the love thing once, but it backfired on him so he’s been a bit gun-shy.

To counteract Derick, I set up Chris as the pirate tour guide. He trained in acting and has an easygoing, charming personality, which helps him interact with a different crowd almost every day, depending on his schedule. He has a wacky group of friends, some are housemates, and seems to have it all. Only it’s the talking one-on-one that has him all twisted up.

There’s the set up. A pub owner who interacts with the pirate guide only during working hours, crushes on him all the time, but unable to take the necessary step. We have the enigmatic pirate able to charm his guests with various tales of the golden age of piracy, but can’t take the leap from crowd to a personal talk.

All with the background of a brewpub in historic St. Augustine.

What else could I do to them or showcase the city? I placed everything within the timeframe of the Annual St. Augustine Pirate Gathering. This three-day festival attracts pirate lovers from all over the United States for music, food, singing, parades and pirate demonstrations (ok, I changed this to battles). Of course, Chris would be neck deep in the gathering.

Things were going along fine while writing it, but the story needed something more. Yeah, right smack in the middle of writing, my stinky muse put a dramatic halt and kept me locked in place. What else do I need?

There’s something other than a pint of grog when you bring up the idea of pirates. Treasure. Could I use this part as a way for Derick to open up and interact more with Chris? Yup. One special treasure hunt is ready to go. Not only will the hunt bring them closer, but it takes you, the reader, around St. Augustine and learn about a couple of the unique shops found there.

The guys also need a special place outside of their homes and the tavern to talk, flirt and have a little fun. After finding their homes, both are actually up for sale on a real estate sight, I found a centralized spot. Chris hangs around for Derick to close the bar and they ride bicycles through the night to this special historical home and a park. Yeah, more than talking happens here, but I’ll let you enjoy those bits firsthand.

With these extra pieces, I could complete the story. Are you exhausted yet? Overwhelmed? Yeah, so was I, but it’s so worth it in the end.

Oh, there’s a little something extra about the title – Treasure Trail. There’s two different meaning behind it. Can you figure them out?

Lemme hear from you.

Here’s another question. It goes back to the beginning of my research. There were two options I looked at while thinking about the Pub Crawl – Pirate Pub Tour or Spirits with Spirits Tour. Would you rather read all about sexy pirates or haunting ghosts? Why?

Leave a comment with your answers for a chance to win your ebook choice of my backlist books.

I hope you’ll enjoy your visit to St. Augustine, her history, lore and pirates!

 

Check out Treasure Trail today!

TreasureTrail

Dreamspinner Press
All Romance E-books
Amazon US
Goodreads
Kobo
B&N

Blurb: 

Owner of Matey’s Tavern, a popular brewpub-tavern in St. Augustine, Florida, Derick Keyes loves his adopted hometown and job. He also harbors a crush on a pirate captain.

Tour guide for the popular Pirate Pub Walking Tour, Christopher Easton portrays a pirate captain as he takes visitors on a guided tour of St. Augustine, stopping at certain taverns for a pint of grog and tales of the golden age of piracy. With a little liquid courage, Chris breaks the endless looping dance and talks to Derick. Things change between them. Derick wants a chance for more with Chris.

During the Annual Pirate Festival, Derick creates a treasure hunt for Chris after “cursing” him. To break the curse, Chris must find four clues before the final battle on Sunday night. Only then can the curse be broken.

States of Love: Stories of Romance that span every corner of the United States.

About Nicole Dennis:

A quiet one, Nicole Dennis curled up with the latest book of a favorite author. Since the beginning, there were these characters in her head, worlds wanting to be built on paper, and stories wanting to be told. She began writing during class and continues to this day. Now she can let others into her imagination and worlds that always celebrate the love between two or more people within LGBT, paranormal, and fantasy.

During the day, she works in a quiet office in Central Florida, where she also makes her home, and enjoys the down time to slip into her imagination. She is owned by a semi-demonic tortie calico, affectionately known as Fat Cat.

Contact & Media Info:

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GoodreadsQ&A with Nicole Dennis: http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/50397-q-a-with-nicole-dennis
Goodreads Profile: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2791975.Nicole_Dennis

5 Responses to “Treasure Trail: Figuring Out a Story with Nicole Dennis – Post + Giveaway”

  1. Susan says:

    TBH, I would rather read about haunting ghosts, since I am a big fan of paranormals. Although pirates aren’t bad; I mean who doesn’t love Captain Jack?

  2. Trix says:

    I tend to feel bad for ghosts (since they’re dead and all), so I vote pirates!

  3. Debra Guyette says:

    I do so enjoy pirate tours. I have been on several. I think they are very exciting.

  4. Ami says:

    Whoa, I don’t know that there will be FIFTY authors for the fifty states!! Make me excited! I prefer haunting ghost. I just don’t find pirates sexy LOL. They are dirty!! I guess I like my heroes in books to be clean hahaha

  5. Nicole Dennis says:

    Hi everyone

    Hmm. Seems to be 50/50 about now. What I figured.
    I may just have to visit St Augustine again for a ‘ghost tour’ story with a haunting.

    Thank you all for the visit!

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