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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Guest Blogger H.L. Wegley and Hide and Seek


H. L. WEGLEY served in the USAF as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. He is a Meteorologist who worked as a Research Scientist in Atmospheric Physics at Pacific Northwest Laboratories. After earning an MS in Computer Science, he worked more than two decades as a Systems Programmer at Boeing before retiring in the Seattle area, where he and his wife of 46 years enjoy small-group ministry, their seven grandchildren, and where he pursues his love of writing.

by H. L. Wegley
Published by HarbourLight Books


He expected security breaches, but the conspiracy she uncovers sends them running for their lives.

A computer security breach within a US defense contractor’s firewalls leads investigators, Lee Brandt and beautiful, brilliant Jennifer Akihara, onto the cyber-turf of terrorists, where they are detected and targeted for elimination. Lee leads them on a desperate flight for survival into the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Will Jennifer’s pursuit of truth about the conspiracy, and the deepest issues of life, lead her into the clutches of terrorists, into the arms of Lee Brandt, or into the arms of the God she deems untrustworthy?

Readers, buy your copy of Hide and Seek today!


Researching the Setting of a Novel: The Good, the Bad, and the Boring

Bet you thought the title would end with the word “ugly.” Well, it didn’t because there is seldom anything ugly about researching the setting of a novel. Plot is another story (no pun intended).

Let’s dispense with the boring part of setting research first. Have you ever tried to scale distances from Google maps, trying to see how far it is from point A to point B? Yes, boring.

This past year I wrote 4 manuscripts in 6 months and took another 6 weeks to complete the research, which included researching the settings. This author has learned that some readers get a little bent out of shape when I mess up the description of their favorite vacation spot. My solution was to visit each location, take some video, a lot of pictures, collect a few maps -- Google maps can’t do everything -- and learn about the local culture from the restaurants, stores, and people. Boring you say? Not if the locations are the outer Olympic Peninsula, Lake Chelan in Washington State, and Maui. I’ll bet you’re beginning to see the good.

I selected these settings because they played well with my plots, and because I thought I knew all of them pretty well. But I soon found that when I’m describing a chase scene where my heroine is running down an Olympic Park trail, or when she sprints a beach trail in Maui, ending up in the lobby of a resort hotel, I needed to walk those settings, take photos, and take notes. I needed to see it, feel it, hear it, smell it, and get it right.

Fortunately, the IRS allows legitimate, documented travel to be claimed as a business expense. Now before you all start planning to become novelists and write about some exotic location, keep in mind that the travel must be needed to write your story and that you have to log your time. Only that fraction of the trip actually spent writing/researching can be claimed. If you researched and wrote a fourth of the time, you claim a fourth of your expenses. If you drive to the destination, your allowance in 2012 was 55.5 cents per mile.

The “good” is that there are what you might call fringe benefits to writing, but with the cost of travel these days, you had better be taking an enjoyable vacation at the same time you travel for research, otherwise, you’ll be taking a big hit in the pocketbook, all on a gamble that your book will be contracted and that it will sell. The “bad” is that if you don’t document things properly, your life turns into a horror story, an IRS audit. But I’ve never heard of an author being audited if they properly documented their travel expenses.

We’ve talked about the good, the bad, and the boring. But there is another aspect to traveling for setting research. It’s the beautiful. If you want to see the beauty, take a look at the banner on my facebook profile: Yes, I shot that picture on my Maui trip, and it is beautiful.

Reader Question:  Hide and Seek, the 1st book in the Pure Genius Series, is set in the Pacific Northwest, near Seattle. The 3rd book in this series, Moon over Maalaea Bay, is set entirely in Maui. Both books are thrillers with romance, having the same main characters. Other things being equal, how much influence does the setting have when you are selecting a book to read? Would the setting of Maui win out over the Pacific Northwest?

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Thank you, Harry, for sharing with us today.

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a free eBook copy of the book featured above. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

This week, the drawing is open to anyone worldwide.


H L Wegley said...

Before someone jumps all over my statement about claiming only the fraction of the time you spent researching a location, let me say that I just came from an appointment with my tax accountant. There's a better and safer way to claim daily expenses. Just take the daily per diem allowed by the IRS. Then you don't have to worry about having all the receipts receipts for restaurants, etc. You can claim the full amount for travel and lodging for yourself. Your spouse must actually be a part of your research team if you claim him/her.

Davalyn Spencer said...

I would have a hard time choosing a book based on setting, particularly if that setting choice is Hawaii or the Pacific Northwest. I've been to both and enjoyed them both, but for different reasons. Beautiful locations all around! Therefore, I'd read the first book first, and then the second.

Great interview. Thanks so much.

H L Wegley said...

Davalyn, I agree with you. Setting might occasionally cause me to pass on a book, but it's story that trumps everything else. A great setting to me is a bonus, the icing on the cake.

Diana Montgomery said...

Hi Yes I think a place matters. Some times people write a story of romance and just doesn't go with the area. Love to win your book. Love suspense and romance. Thanks for your giveaway.
Diana Montgomery

H L Wegley said...

Thanks for joining us, Diana! The setting wasn't ideal for romance in Hide and Seek. Unfortunately, I didn't give my hero and heroine much choice. They had to make do. Maybe, if things work out between them, I can treat them to a honeymoon in Maui, let them watch the "Moon over Maalaea Bay." But I've got a feeling something might go wrong there too. :)

H L Wegley said...

And the winner is...rather the winners are...
Congratulations Diana Montgomery!
Congratulations Davalyn Spencer!
Since you two were the only readers to respond to our question about setting, you should both have an e-copy of Hide and Seek.
I'll be contacting both of you by e-mail to see which format you prefer.