Creating A Town Map

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Those of you who are familiar with my Texas Grooms books know that it’s a 10 book series. But it wasn’t always conceived to contain so many books. I originally wrote the first book under the title Lady’s Choice for Leisure Books, an imprint of the now defunct Dorchester Publishing Company.

Several years later my editor at Love Inspired Historicals somehow got hold of a copy and loved it. When she learned I’d reacquired the rights she asked if I’d be willing to rewrite it to fit within LIH guidelines. Since I really love the characters in this book it was a no brainer – of course I said yes.

Once I turned that one in, with the new title Handpicked Husband, she asked what I thought about developing stories for each of the three strong secondary characters that appeared in the book. I gave her an excited YES! response and the Turnabout Grooms series was born. At that point it was supposed to be a four book series. But as I wrote those other three books the community of Turnabout really came alive for me and my imagination kept weaving stories for other characters who lived there. And my editor agreed to let me explore the possibilities. So I happily wrote additional stories set in Turnabout right up until the time Love Inspired closed the Historical line.


But all of that is backstory.  What I wanted to talk about today was some of the things that go into tracking the details for a multi-book series. Since this one wasn’t originally conceived as a series going in, I was a little behind the curve  putting my series bible together.

Of course, I’ve always tracked information within a book – I document all the secondary characters who pop up in any of the books, no matter how minor a role they play.  This also includes animals – pets, horses, etc. And I have a spreadsheet that lists backstory events and milestones for my key characters. So it wasn’t to difficult to put all of the info from the books written to date together into one comprehensive series bible.

However, the deeper I got into this series the more I realized I’d need an additional document to keep track of the world I was building.  Because I found myself losing track of where the different residences and businesses were in relation to each other.  So after I finished the first draft of book three (A Family For Christmas) I finally bit the bullet and decided to draw up a town map.  I had to dig into all three books to get things laid out properly, and I found one or two inconsistencies that I had to take care of in the edit stage of the third book but I finally had a good working copy in hand. I initially drew it up by hand, but the nerd in me wanted to have it on the computer so I wouldn’t have to keep up with a piece of paper.

Since I already had an image creating/editing software package I pulled it out and went to work. I decided to keep it simple and use straight lines for the streets even though I pictured some of them as being more of the winding variety. Then I found some clipart I could use for the buildings and plugged them in.

Once I finally had it set I was not only able to use it as a visual reference as I wrote new books set in Turnabout, but it was easy to update as I described additional residences and business/landmarks in those other books.

It’s not fancy and it’s by no means drawn to scale, but it helped me keep the relative positions of everything straight.

If you’re interested in taking a peek at my map, you can find it at this link:

And speaking of my Texas Grooms series, Harlequin has been gradually reverting the rights to some of those books back to me and I’m repackaging and reissuing them as I can. I’ve also renamed the series from Texas Grooms to Turnabout Hearts.

In December I released His Christmas Matchmaker (formerly titled The Holiday Courtship) and just last week I released Her Tailor-Made Husband (formerly titled A Tailor-Made Husband).

I still have several copies of these books under the old titles that I’d like to find a home for. So leave a comment – let me know how important it is to you that the author is consistent in those sort of details from book to book or if you really don’t notice.

His Christmas Matchmaker

A guilty secret…   Vowing to put her past behind her, schoolteacher Janell Whitman has resigned herself to spinsterhood and she’s erected walls to guard her heart from all but her pupils.

A solitary heart…   Hank Chandler is quite comfortable with his uncomplicated bachelor life. But when he suddenly finds himself the guardian of his orphaned niece and nephew he knows all that that will have to change. Not only do the children need a mother’s love, but he’s not fit to be a single parent. So he’ll need to marry quickly, whether he wants to or not.

A Christmas bargain…   Seeing their need, Janell impulsively reaches out to help the hurting Chandler family. But when Hank proposes a businesslike marriage she draws the line at becoming his wife. She softens her refusal, however, with a counteroffer – she’ll take care of the children after school and help him find an appropriate wife in time for Christmas. After all, how hard can it be?



Her Tailor-Made Husband

What she needed was a clean break. what she got was a fake engagement.

Hazel Andrews has been in love with Ward Gleason since she was an adolescent. Her admiration and attraction for him have only grown over the years as she sees his dedication and integrity in action. Ward, however, continues to see her as only a friend. Frustrated, Hazel decides it’s time for a change and accepts her aunt’s invitation to join her in New York. But fate has other plans…

Ward Gleason had to grow up quickly. Man of the house by age ten, he took on all the responsibilities of a grown-up, including guilt over a family tragedy. Now serving as sheriff, Ward is determined to do the people of Turnabout proud. When he finds an abandoned child, he knows he’ll need help caring for the five-year-old until her situation is resolved. Hazel seems the perfect person to watch little Meg during the day, but when he learns of Hazel’s plans to leave Texas, it’s more than disappointment that settles in Ward’s gut. Could his feelings toward Hazel have deepened without him realizing it?



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Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at or email her at

50 thoughts on “Creating A Town Map”

  1. I really enjoyed this post. I have an eye for details. So I appreciate consistency in a series. It’s neat how you kept up with characters in a spreadsheet and how you did the map.

  2. It’s a shame a lot of authors don’t do this or something similar. Sometimes, names or locations change from book to book. It can be very confusing. Thanks so much.

  3. Inconsistencies really grab my attention so I appreciate your dedication and hard work to avoid it. Looks like Turnabout is a well developed community.

    • Thanks Rhonda. And yes, over the course of ten books this town truly felt like a real place to me – I could picture every dusty road and open field, all the shopkeepers and townsfolk

  4. I do notice details in a story. I love the map you created here and can see how helpful it would be as your write.

  5. I love your map, too, Winnie! I’m very visual, and um, the older I get, the more forgetful I get. It’s almost impossible to keep track of the myriad of details written over the span of multiple books. Your map is well worth the time it took to make it!

    Congrats on those re-releases. Love the new covers!

  6. Thank you Winnie for a great post. The title Turnabout Hearts for the series is clever. Paying attention to details and weaving them through a series is refreshing to me. It’s like getting to know the town and it’s community better and better. Your new covers are fabulous! I wish companies wouldn’t cancel historical writings. It is my favorite genre, especially western historical books. Thanks for including the map. Great post!

  7. Yes it does make a difference to me as well – thanks for showing us this interesting side of the writing world!

  8. I appreciate the details between books. I have found myself checking sometimes on the details myself relating one book to another. I had His Christmas Matchmaker and recently gave it to my granddaughter to read. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The map is an added bonus and helps put things in perspective. My favorite genre is the western historicals.

  9. thanks for posting today. this is interesting. I can totally relate to writing things down so I can keep track of them.

  10. I’m actually reading Texas Cinderella right now, and LOVING it!!! I love how authors create their own towns and make us a part of it!!

  11. When I am reading a series of books I look for those similarities and feel a wee bit uncomfortable with something that does not come out the same as I remembered from a previous story. In fact, it is like when I am reading the Bible. I want to go back and check out a statement made that I do not recall that way. It is like changing a birthdate or birthplace of a family member. You just want to jump in there and say, “No-no-no!! She was born in December, not October!” See what I mean? It makes each story a part of your own family.

    • Thanks Connie. And that’s an interesting response – glad you don’t hold writers accountable for those things that sometimes get through even when we try to be so careful 🙂

  12. Being consistent in a series is important. Nothing takes me, as a reader, out of a story more than a building, moving from one end of a town to another, or a person walking into a building, being a corporal and coming out a captain. Good idea to create a town map, wish more authors did.

    • Hi Denise. And I did absolutely have fun with this. And every time I went in to tweak it I could mentally picture my characters walking those streets and entering those buildings 🙂

  13. Hi, I alternate between series and standalone, and yes I like consistency. Your town map is really good, and how fun!! Thank you for sharing it with us!Have a great week.

  14. Hello I love reading series and standalones, and I love consistency Love your town map! Thank you for sharing with us Have a Great day!

  15. Wow it’s so impressive how you’re able to keep track of all those details! And thanks for showing us the map!
    When I’m reading a series I try not to get too caught up in the details and just enjoy the story. When I’m writing, my notes are haphazard at best. Your organization is inspirational!

  16. The map is great! Consistency is very important to me. I have a good eye for detail & it’s amazing how many times I notice things that don’t match up.

  17. Consistency is important to me. It doesn’t have to be exact, just close. I have been pulled out of reading a story when something comes up that is off from an earlier description in the book or another in the series. Much like a Hallmark 2 movie series where #1 had as the home a lovely 2 story farm house and #2 had a one story farm house depicting the same residence. In a book, have a building located somewhere and later being referred to as being somewhere else upsets the visual we create when reading a book. I am glad you are making the effort to keep things consistent.
    I have read several of the books in the series, but not these two.

  18. Hi Winnie, I love series books & yes, details are very important to keep the story flowing. I have enjoyed LIH for a long time. Thanks, for a chance to win a copy of your older books. Have read your books for years. Have a blessed day and New Year’s.

  19. I think consistency is so important in a series. I respect the fact that it is obviously important to you as well. It is a sign that you take pride in your work. It is also why I enjoy reading them. Keep up the good work!

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