Happy Birthday, Kansas!

If you've been my reader for more than a few days, you know by now that I'm a Kansan girl through and through. I've lived in Kansas the majority of my life, and have traveled around much of the state. I look for excuses to take pictures of sunflowers and honey bees, and get a special sort of thrill when I see a herd of bison. Yep, Kansas has seeped into my very being, and quite often seeps into my writing.
How to Marry a Genie

When I wrote the Charming Academy series, the stories were meant to take place in a fantasy version of our world, way, way back when. So while Kansas couldn't be a location, it certainly inspired the rolling plains of Lictthane, where Moira and Adrian grew up, and the dangerous tornado which prolongs Lucian's stop in the province.

But as for my contemporary works, Kansas has quite often appeared as part of the setting. Almost a Fairy Tale never specifically states it, but I've always imagined that the story took place on the eastern side of Kansas.

Oh, Snap!, How to Marry a Genie, and How to Date a Genie take place in an imaginary little town that is based around Garden City, one of our favorite places to visit. Garden City sports a fun zoo (though smaller than the zoo featured in my stories), a small water park, shopping, restaurants, but unfortunately no genies. At least, none that I've met. As an additional Easter egg, the name of the city they live in was inspired by the wonderful place I call home.

Additionally, Holly and Mr. Ivy takes place in an imaginary, Kansas town. The characters live in Walnut Creek, so named as a tribute to the multiple Walnut Creeks running through the state. Not sure why that's such a popular name for the little creeks and streams of Kansas, but it is. This town, and specifically its tree lighting festival, were inspired by Meade, a town not far from where I live. And yes, I've taken the liberty of sneaking a kiss under the huge pine at the park which inspired Trey and Tory's first kiss.

Bless His Heart
Bless His Heart, and the other books in Blessings of Love, also takes place in Kansas in the fictional town of Blessings. That one takes all the joys of small town living and plops it in an area where big city comforts aren't too terribly far away. Working together with the other authors in the series was such a treat, and I'm looking forward to the possibility of returning to Blessings this year. In helping the authors less familiar with Kansas get their bearings, Prince Charming and I were able to do a fair amount of driving through the small towns in the northeastern corner of the state during our anniversary trip. They are every bit as charming and lovely as the little town we created.

Right now I'm working on a project which will put me in the heart of western Kansas with an amazing ranch that I wish more and more each day were a real place! I'd love to tell you more, but for now this little teaser is about all I can share.

But my romances aren't the only books to take place in Kansas. One of the things I'm enjoying most about my contemporary fantasies is the fact that I can use real life locations mixed in with my fictional ones. Into the Rainbow starts off in Kansas City and it's during their venture into the Kansan side of the city, that Dierdre and her sisters drive through a rainbow and into the fictional world of the Emerald Glade. Sudden downpours like the ones the girls get caught in are frequent spring occurances, especially on the eastern side of the state. A Summer of Rainbows shows the girls at home on their ranch closer to where I'm at, before once again taking them to the Emerald Glade.

Toil and Trouble
Another book that is set in Kansas is Toil and Trouble. This story is pretty special to me because I based the location on Emporia, the town I went to college in. Summer Wood is a figment of my imagination, but Emporia does have a good amount of trees, a great university, and the  home of William Allen White, a notable journalist. My dear friend graciously allowed me to use her daughter as a cover model, and I think you'll agree that she made the perfect Allie. This summer, I hope to return to Summer Wood to send Allie on another adventure (which of course means I need to contact my friend and her daughter to set up another photo shoot).

Kansas is a wonderful state to live in. It's a great place to grow up, and a great place to raise a family. It's a place where romance can be as small town, or big city as you like. A place where fantasy adventures can seem possible in the rocky hills or silent woods. Kansas is the place I call home, and no matter how far I travel I always look forward to being back in my favorite state. And as long as I'm a writer, I'll continue to bring Kansas into the limelight of my stories, sharing her character, history, and joys with the rest of the world.

Happy birthday, Kansas!

**You may have noticed some of the book titles are linked to their Amazon page. To celebrate the 159th birthday of my home state, How to Marry a Genie and Bless His Heart are discounted to 99c, and Toil and Trouble is free until Friday, January 31. Enjoy, and tell me your favorite thing about the state/country you live in!** 


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