An Imaginary Place

herdearestenemyDutchman’s Creek, Colorado, is a place I made up.  If you pointed to a map and asked me to show you where it was, I would just shrug.  But after writing five books (including my current WIP) about the little mountain valley, its town and generations of its people, Dutchman’s Creek has become as real to me as any spot on earth.

Ringed by wooded foothills, the valley is located near the eastern edge of the Rockies.  To the west, towering peaks rise against the sky.  Looking east, the mountains are gentler, sloping off to the vast prairie.  It’s a place of crisp mountain air, brutal winters, fragile springs and glorious autumns. 

The small but prosperous town serves as a center for the surrounding farms and ranches.  A railroad spur from Denver brings two trains a day, and there’s a little café adjacent to the depot.  The businesses that line the main street include several stores, a saloon, a bank and a hotel.  Off on side streets are a church and a school.

Dutchman’s Creek started as the setting for my 2005 book, HER DEAREST ENEMY.  Banker Brandon Calhoun and schoolmarm Harriet Smith, now married, still live there and show up in subsequent stories.  Young sheriff Matt Langtry transferred to Wyoming to become the hero of WYOMING WILDFIRE.

borrowed-brideAfter that book, I thought I was finished with Dutchman’s Creek.  Then I realized it would be the perfect setting for my 2008 book, THE BORROWED BRIDE.  That book introduced the Seavers and Gustavson families to the valley and blossomed into a series.  Its sequel, HIS SUBSTITUTE BRIDE was set mostly in San Francisco, but the Colorado town was still home base.






The Horseman's Bride



My March 2010 book, THE HORSEMAN’S BRIDE, takes us back to the ranch.  Headstrong Clara Seavers, a baby in THE BORROWED BRIDE and a six-year-old in HIS SUBSTITUTE BRIDE, is all grown up and ready for a man of her own.  And Jace Denby is all man.  But Jace is one step ahead of the law.  He has to keep running or face death at the end of a rope.  How can Clara find a way to make him hers forever?

You can learn more and get a sneak preview on my web site,  Hope you’ll stop by Dutchman’s Creek soon for a visit, maybe put your feet up and stay awhile…

Do you like imaginary settings or real settings?  What’s your favorite fictional setting?

I’ll be giving away a copy of THE HORSEMAN’S BRIDE to one lucky winner, drawn from all of you who post.

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46 thoughts on “An Imaginary Place”

  1. Hi Elizabeth, great post! Congrats on your new release! I love imaginary settings! My favorite fictional setting is anything western. I just love western settings and always have. I grew up with my father reading westerns so maybe that’s where I get it. Thanks for sharing your books with us, and for the give away!

    ghurt110 AT bellsouth DOT net

  2. What a great post! I have to say, Elizabeth, you do make Dutchman’s Creek, Colorado sound like a real place. I like both imaginary settings and real settings. I don’t really have a favorite fictional setting, but I do love it when an author makes a fictional setting seem so real that I want to be able to visit. When reading a novel, the setting an author chooses is to me a way of traveling without leaving home. I will have to check out your books.

  3. Elizabeth , I agree your Colorado setting sounds so beautiful!

    I have a few fictional settings which I like that immediately come to my mind.

    Susan Wiggs and her village of Avalon set on the shores of Willow Lake in the Catskill Mountains. (Lakeshore Chronicles)

    Debbie Macomber and her Ceder Cove, Washington series.

    Diana Palmer and her Jacobsville, Texas setting where ex-mercenaries retire and several of her other stories are based The King ranch is also close by.

  4. Hi, Elizabeth! I love folksy, hometown stories set in imaginary places where the businesses are mostly located on one main street. Just about everything you need is within walking distance. The church bells ring out on Sunday morning, and there’s always helping hands when trouble arises. I live in a small railroad town in the beautiful mountains of central Southwestern Virginia. When I was growing up, my little town was just like the imaginary ones I described. I love romances set in small Southern towns. I also adore my Cowboys and Western Romances!

    gcwhiskas at aol dot com

  5. I am so glad I discovered this site, thanks to Karyn, one of your followers.
    Your little made up town sounds like a wonderful place and I look forward to checking out some of the stories.
    I liked Debbie Macomber’s Orchard Valley trilogy.
    Thanks for sharing today, Elizabeth.

  6. Congrats on your release !! And what a great cover for The Horseman’s Bride (why I wonder ?? ;).
    I love cowboys and western romance. I don’t need the setting to be real. Imaginary towns work for me. I don’t know the “real” places so it doesn’t make much difference after all.
    Congrats again !

  7. Elizabeth,actually I like both,but it sounds like such a nice place too bad it isnt real,sounds like a book I couldnt lay down once I start it,thanks for such a great Post!

  8. I love series books…I’ve just started reading again (first time for romance) and will have to add your books to my “wish” list.
    they sound great!
    favorite imaginary/real settings…
    i love all the settings in western romances–want to be at each one–whether they are real or not–it’s nice to get away either way!
    thanks for the chance at your new book!!

  9. I have to say I like both. To me if it’s a good story I don’t care where it’s located. I think Diana Palmer’s Jacobsville Texas is a good example of a place you would want to visit, if it existed. I love your cover and would love to read your book.

  10. Good morning, all. Thanks for your early morning visits. Just starting my day here on Mountain Standard Time. Love your posts about imaginary vs. real settings. I’ll be in and out today, but wishing you all good luck in the drawing. If I get a lot of posts, I plan to up your chances by adding more copies to the giveaway. Thanks again for posting.

  11. Hi Elizabeth! What a terrific post about setting! My books are set in both fictional towns and real places. The fictional towns are fun to write, because I’ve got carte blanche with the geography and town history. I love being able to make the setting fit the story. On the other hand, the research for using a real place adds detail to a story, things I wouldn’t have imagined.

    Your new book sounds wonderful! Love all your covers 🙂

  12. I like both real and fictional places. When the author brings the setting alive for me then it doesn’t really make a difference if it’s a real place because it seems real to me.

  13. an excellent posting….thanks for the opportunity to read your masterpiece…you are a gifted storyteller 🙂

  14. I enjoy reading both real and fictional settings, but when it comes to writing, I prefer fictional. Making up a town allows a writer to set it up just the way you need it. The key is making it seem real to the readers.

  15. Elizabeth,

    I first have to say that I love your covers. Actually I like imaginary settings the best because then I can make it look the way I see it in my mind.

    My favorite fictional setting is in the desert with mountains soaring high into the sky.

    I hope to win a signed copy but either way I will get the book.
    I have read most of yours and I love them

    You are such a wonderful and gifted storyteller

    Walk in harmony,

  16. Thanks for your comments. I agree with the idea that a fictional setting’s easier to write because you can build it to fit your story. But a real setting can send you in directions you wouldn’t otherwise have thought of.
    Please forgive my sparse responses today. I’m in frantic deadline mode on my sequel to THE HORSEMAN’S BRIDE, with way too many pages to go. But I’ll drop by to read your comments and choose the winner (s?) of the book.

  17. Hi, Elizabeth. I lean toward fictional towns, but when I write, I tend to base my fictional towns on the histories of actual small Texas towns. I guess I try to get the best of both worlds. I can take advantage of the research information I can collect on the real town, then fictionalize it to give myself the freedom of creating characters and situations that aren’t restricted by actual history. But I know what you mean about these places becoming real in your mind. I draw maps and everything!

  18. I always forget when I’m reading a book it is not a real place. The Virgin River series by Robyn Carr is one example. You always have the most beautiful covers!!

  19. I’m loving that cover of The Horseman’s Bride! I didn’t realize that the story of Dutchman’s Creek went back any further than The Borrowed Bride! I’ll have to go find the others!

  20. Your fictional town sounds great. I love settings that revolve around small communities with interesting characters. Love the covers to your books.

  21. As a reader I can appreciate a story based on a real life place; although my preference is usually a fictional town where I can get so pulled into the story that the town and characters do start to feel real. Thats when I know the book is a keeper for me.

    I’ve read many of your books and have loved them! Hope that you keep writing more for years to come. Thanks for the great post and a chance to win your new book!!

  22. Oh wow, Elizabeth! The Horseman’s Bride cover makes me salivate. That’s some sexy man! And he looks very similar to guy on the cover of “The Stranger.” I’m so glad you wrote Clara’s story. She needed someone to love. With the way she came into the world, I suspected you might want to delve more into her character. Glad I wasn’t mistaken.

    Dutchman’s Creek is a wonderful fictional town. I fell in love with it when I read The Borrowed Bride. It feels like my second home. Very comfortable and intriguing. I really prefer to read stories where the town is fictional. It unleashes my imagination and unlike real places fictional towns can be whatever I want it to be. I’ve used several fictional towns in my stories. I like the freedom of them. One of my favorite fictional places is Jodi Thomas’s Whispering Mountain.

  23. I love which ever setting an author decides on, because it is through their words that the setting/ place comes to life… Oooh love your cover for THE HORSEMAN’S BRIDE! 😀

  24. Taking a break from my deadline to read your wonderful comments. I will definitely plan on giving away more than one copy of THE HORSEMAN’S BRIDE. Those of you, like Linda B., who’ve followed the series, will be interested in knowing that in this book, Clara is forced to deal with the family secret that surrounds her birth. And that’s all I’m going to say about it.

  25. Does not matter to me whether a setting is real or made up. what matters to me is that the place is believable. Dutchmans creek is so believable that I can see it. In fact I think it is where my daughter is living or at the very least one of the many places in Colorado that I have visited. Looking fforward to your newest book

  26. Elizabeth, now I’m really intrigued. I can’t wait to get this book. I’m betting Clara will be shocked when the family secret comes out and she learns the truth. I can imagine that this will jar her to the core. My dear, you really know how to write ’em!

  27. Add me to the list of town builders, please! You
    get to place everything as you prefer and as is
    best for your story. The imaginary setting can
    grow and be as much or as little a part of your
    varied tales as you like!

    Pat Cochran

  28. Hi Elizabeth, I echo Linda’s sentiments exactly! Can’t wait to read this! The covers are majorly gorgeous, too.

    I like to create a town of my own but use it more than once. Since I think Nebraska is underused LOL, I try to keep things accurate geographically and historically and people it with the most romantic characters.

    Whta a wonderful blog. Keep up the great work! oxoxoxoxox

  29. Great post! Hmmm you know on the settings question I would have to say I like both as long as they are done correctly. Both have advantages and disadvantages. With an imaginary setting you have unlimited things you can do but the real settings are ones that people can readily identify with more sometimes. But as long as the story is interesting and has some dreamy romance I don’t really mind! LOL 🙂

  30. Hi Elizabeth,

    Can I say I love the cover of your book, wow! Just commenting on my own dabble in writing , I prefer a fictional place, then I can inject my own vision as to what a place should be.
    Congrats on your new release!

  31. You are a new to me author! I found you based on a recommendation of a friend on Goodreads.

    I love imaginary towns. The author can make them however they wish! I don’t have to be able to put my finger on a map to appreciate a location. Some of the best ones I’ve ever read about are imaginary!

    I’ll have to check out your books. In the meantime, I’d love to win this one!


  32. I love the Cedar Cove setting by Debbie Macomber. Such a nice place.

    Virgin River setting by Robyn Carr is a wonderful place also.

  33. Wow it’s a good thing you put the cover for The Horseman’s Bride at the end! If it was at the top I would have been so distracted I wouldn’t have been able to read the post! 😛

  34. Have read many of your books and enjoyed them all.
    As far as locations for stories, both real and imaginary work. Books that deal with historical events need to touch base with those events and where they happened. Your imaginary town of Dutchman’s Creek is very much like many towns in Colorado. We lived in Colorado Springs for 3 years and you have captured the feel of the Front Range perfectly. There is no place else like it. Wish we could have lived there longer.
    Good luck with the release of THE HORSEMAN’S BRIDE.

  35. I love both real and fictional settings. It’s all about the story for me. I’ve always loved westerns, and THE HORSEMAN’S BRIDE sounds great!

  36. Hi, Elizabeth who wonder this post!
    As you know I love all your books and I love your environments.
    “Her Dearest Enemy” is one of my favorites book, I loved the scenery and your descriptions.
    I adore the Colorado is among my favorite places but there is a place has remained in my heart. E the ranch of “Rose Colby” in Arizona. I cried when it burned.
    Congratulations on the new novel which I hope will come soon in Italy^-^.

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