Putting Leah in her place

corrected himmel mapOne of the nice things about writing the first book in a series is that you don’t have to worry about contradicting yourself. Nobody knows anything about your characters, what they look like, or where they live, or what they fear and love. So, you can pretty much make things up on the fly. In Dangerous Habits, the first book in the Leah Nash Mysteries series, I blithely sent Leah and other characters all over the town of Himmel, Wisconsin, making up directions and street names and landmarks as I went.

However, as I started writing the second, I realized that alert readers might notice that a building I’d placed on the north end of town in the first book, I’d accidentally relocated to the south end of town in the second. I decided a map of Himmel was needed to keep Leah in her place. Unfortunately, I am not very good at spatial relations. Lining up streets and intersections and rivers and buildings took me hours and hours and hours, and what I ended up with looked like the drawing of an artistically challenged preschooler. So, I turned to Nancy and Dale Beach, graphic artists who designed and helped me do all the technical things necessary for the book cover of Dangerous Habits.

They created a wonderful map of Himmel that I’m using as my guide for future books, as well as a map of DeMoss Academy where much of the action in the first book takes place. Both maps are now on my website, under the heading Leah’s world. You’ll find a short video clip from the presentation I did at the library (The Howdunit of a Whodunit) a few weeks ago there and also at the bottom of this post. In it, I talk a little about how and why I chose the location for Dangerous Habits. And finally, the entire video of the presentation is located on the site under, appropriately enough, the heading Video.

The computer savvy among you would not believe how long it took me to edit and upload those freaking clips! Even with help from a very patient friend. But my technology revels now are ended, and I’m going to return to something a lot less frustrating — working on the last 1/3 of the second Leah Nash mystery.


The situational extrovert


Lone Star State of Mind


  1. Barbara

    Well done indeed!

  2. Dian Frayser

    Great blog. And really enjoyed the presentation. Would love to have been there in person.
    I copied the map of Himmel and put it in my book for future reference. I love having maps when
    I’m reading a good book. Cannot wait for the next one.

  3. Tracy Roach

    Hello Susan! My mom, Nora Roach, gave me a copy of Dangerous Habits and I love it. I´m a huge fan of mystery fiction and it stands with the best of them. Best wishes for number two, three, four . . .

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