Posted by: jeannineatkins | March 18, 2010

Writing about Place: Visit the Honeysuckle Café and Linda Lappin

Candice Ransom an extraordinarily prolific writer, advocates writing about or from place. So do I. Musing about where someone sits, what is on her table or lap, under her feet or in her view, often gives me a good place to begin. Of course we need character for fiction or information for nonfiction, but place can keep us from getting mired in a character’s complexity or keep facts from seeming too fact-y And when I’m stuck in my writing, sometimes just gazing out the window gets me unstuck. A patch of ground, a corner of a room, can sometimes lead me into theme. In her blog today, Candice candice-ransom quotes Josip Novakovich, who in Fiction Writer’s Workshop says: Setting + Character = Plot. Now that seems like a kind of plotting I can manage.

I first met Candice at Jama’s blog , and like Jama, Candice has a knack for being a gracious hostess. She’s offering a place for writers to meet tomorrow, Friday morning, at her Honeysuckle Café. There will be tea and tulips and bourbon pecan biscotti, but that is the least of it. She’s invited Linda Lappin to not just discuss ways to draw from the spirit of a place to make your writing fresh, but she will offer an exercise from her forthcoming book, “Genius Loci: A Writer’s Guide to Capturing the Soul of Place.”
I know, I know, are we up to this? But no one will be looking over your shoulder, except to see if your teacup is properly filled. Don’t be shy! I can’t wait, and am moving around in my work in progress to choose a good setting to dip into. I hope you’ll join us with your favorite mug and maybe a laptop!

Linda Lappin is the author of Katherine’s Wish, a novel on my table, which I wish I could read by tomorrow, based on the life of Katherine Mansfield. (Have your read The Garden Party, Bliss, or the stories based in Mansfield’s native New Zealand? With a few images and not many words, she spins character and place. Her life and times – Virginia Woolf called her the one writer she felt jealous of – are fascinating.) And you’ll want to go to Linda’s website where you can download a wonderful article she wrote about place for Writer’s Digest last fall. Thank you, Candace, for steering me to this inspiring piece.

I’m still carrying some hope from the smells of the greenhouse I visited at Mount Holyoke two days ago. Flowers remind me of us how a small place can transport.


  1. Sounds like you are going to have a wonderful day tomorrow! Wish I could be there, too!

  2. Julia, I will actually be on my own couch in Massachusetts when I ‘visit” Candace’s Honeysuckle Cafe, and while she’ll post in the morning, I expect you can drop in at your convenience and be welcomed! I expect there will be some wisdom there.

  3. I’m going to try to remember to drop in!
    Those flowers reminded me that yesterday I found blooming vinca!

  4. I get it…duh! I am going to try and drop in, too (after I get off work!)
    I was really hoping for a nice little sun-dappled cafe dripping with honeysuckle.
    Interesting comment about character + place, because that is exactly how my debut novel started. I had a character, and she was in a specific place – it all went from there!

  5. Julia, sometimes I’m at the computer too much and some kind of dementia sets in, so I should apologize. And can’t blame you for wanting real instead of virtual honeysuckle!
    That is cool that is how your novel began!

  6. Sounds like a good day! I hope you drop by at some point to try digging deeper into place.

  7. *siiiiighhhh* 🙂

  8. Thanks so much, Jeannine. My LJ comment thingie broke again yesterday–couldn’t reply to comments on my own blog. The post is up–I tried to make an LJ-cut like Jama does but that didn’t work either. It’s long but worth it!

  9. Sense of place
    Thought-provoking, thank you!
    And your blog is so charming and inviting. I’ll come again!
    Linda C Brennan

  10. Re: Sense of place
    Thanks for stopping by, Linda!

  11. Thank you Jeannine for posting my book cover and for your interest in Katherine’s Wish I can see that you are a Mansfield fan. I tried hard to evoke her time and place and especially her voice. There’s also a section on her friendship with Virginia Woolf. Thank you also for mentioning my maps post — I’m interested in any feedback, if you ever have time to try the exercise. Thanks to all for inviting me to the honeysuckle cafe.

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